Repeal of cap on welfare benefits gains approval

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It’s rare when Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life and Pro-Choice Minnesota support the same legislative proposal. But after their shared testimony Tuesday, a House committee approved repealing a 2003 law that freezes welfare payments when an additional child is born to a family receiving cash benefits.

HF256, sponsored by Rep. Patti Fritz (DFL-Faribault), would repeal current law, which prohibits families in the Minnesota Family Investment Program from receiving a cash increase as a result of having another child.

“This harms children,” Fritz said. “Punishing and keeping food from babies is not the answer.”

Families enroll in MFIP for up to two years. Benefit amounts are based on family size. Current law affects cash payments but does not cap eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The law was intended to create less incentive for a woman to have more children for the purpose of increasing her cash benefit, but the numbers show a different story.

A study by the Children’s Defense Fund indicates the cap on MFIP benefits has not changed birth rates or the number of abortions performed as a result.

The House Health and Human Services Policy Committee approved the bill and referred it to the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee. Sen. Chris Eaton (DFL-Brooklyn Center) sponsors a companion, SF245, which awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.