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Bills before state legislators would put requirements on welfare assistance
LANSING, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - It has already passed the State Senate and soon the House will consider Bill 276 which requires people in the state who want certain types of welfare assistance to do volunteer work to earn it.
It's the idea of Mid-Michigan Senator Joe Hune who calls it common sense.
"Having folks do a little work to help the community that's been helping them makes sense to people. Especially when they are out busting their butt to earn a living for themselves," says Hune.
He says he intentionally left many of the specifics vague to let DHS fill in the details when it administers the program. But he says it would apply to anyone receiving cash assistance and it wouldn't apply to food stamps.
But critics have said the bill is based on common misconceptions.
"The problem with bills like this is they were created with the stereotypes of poverty in mind not the actual reality. So when people are creating these bills they're thinking oh this will be good because everyone on welfare is lazy," says Catrina Beeny with the Kalamazoo Poverty Reduction Initiative.
Beeny works with lower income families and says many people on welfare do work or have small kids at home and couldn't necessarily leave to volunteer. Senator Hune says his bill is getting strong public support.
"I see nothing wrong saying all right if you're going to receive assistance you have to do some volunteering work, whether it's for a hospital or local government or somewhere," says Hune.
He says DHS could give exemptions to people with kids and anyone with a job would not have to volunteer.