HB1331 (2006) Detail

(2nd New Title) AN ACT relative to the New Hampshire Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program and making an appropriation therefor.


CHAPTER 325

HB 1331 – FINAL VERSION

22Feb2006… 0670h

21mar06… 1336h

05/04/06 2157s

05/04/06 2208s

24May2006… 2351cofc

24May2006… 2406eba

2006 SESSION

06-2290

05/09

HOUSE BILL 1331

AN ACT relative to the New Hampshire Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program and making an appropriation therefor.

SPONSORS: Rep. Dalrymple, Rock 4

COMMITTEE: Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs

AMENDED ANALYSIS

This bill revises state laws relative to the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. The changes to state law are in response to the federal reauthorization of TANF in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, Public Law 109-171. The bill also makes an appropriation to the department of health and human services for the purpose of supporting 2-parent families in the state TANF program.

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

22Feb2006… 0670h

21mar06… 1336h

05/04/06 2157s

05/04/06 2208s

24May2006… 2351cofc

24May2006… 2406eba

06-2290

05/09

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Six

AN ACT relative to the New Hampshire Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program and making an appropriation therefor.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

325:1 New Hampshire Employment Program and Family Assistance Program; Statement of Purpose. Amend RSA 167:77 to read as follows:

167:77 Statement of Purpose.

I. The purpose of this subdivision is to reform welfare through the vehicle made available by the federal government[, whether through block grants or by a federal waiver. If a waiver is necessary, it is the intent of the general court that the commissioner of the department of health and human services request such a waiver so that this subdivision may be implemented]. To the extent permitted by federal law, it is the intent of the general court to [replace the aid to families with dependent children program with] operate the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program through 2 subprograms:

(a) The New Hampshire employment program which shall provide financial assistance for families with dependent children when the children are cared for by a parent or relative who is receiving assistance and is considered to be able-bodied for employment.

(b) The family assistance program which shall provide financial assistance for families with dependent children when the parent or other relative is considered unable to work due to a physical or mental disability or the children are cared for by a relative other than a parent who is not receiving assistance.

II. [Such replacement establishes] The New Hampshire employment program and the family assistance program [as the cash] are the financial assistance programs upon which Medicaid and Food Stamps are automatically granted [in the same relationship as under the AFDC program].

III. [A waiver or a block grant may be phased in, at the discretion of the commissioner. If there is a phasing-in then the existing AFDC/JOBS program may be maintained in all or part of the state at the discretion of the commissioner. To the extent that some portions of the state are covered by the AFDC/JOBS program, the statutes and rules governing that program shall apply and be in effect.] Notwithstanding any other laws to the contrary, the New Hampshire employment program and family assistance program shall be covered by this subdivision and the rules adopted under the authority of this section. All statutory provisions within RSA 161 and 167 which are not inconsistent with the provisions of this subdivision shall remain in full force and effect and shall apply to the New Hampshire employment program and the family assistance program.

IV. The New Hampshire employment program shall promote economic independence and help maintain and strengthen family life by enabling able-bodied persons with dependent children to assume responsibility for their families through the dignity of work. Work shall be promoted by:

(a) Offering employment services, support services, and transitional financial assistance with the expectation that participants move quickly towards employment.

(b) Developing long-term employment skills that lead to self-sufficiency.

(c) Recognizing the equal responsibility of both parents to provide economic support for their children.

V. The goals of the New Hampshire employment program shall be to:

(a) Eliminate or reduce the harmful effects of poverty on families and children by fostering employment and opportunity as a means to economic independence.

(b) Assist participants to gain employment as rapidly as possible, given due consideration to individual circumstances, labor market conditions, the needs of the dependent children for continuing care and protection, and the ultimate goal of long-term economic independence.

(c) Eliminate the stigma of welfare by promoting a philosophy and perception that the purpose of welfare is to eliminate or reduce the harmful effects of poverty on families and children by promoting work opportunities for all New Hampshire residents.

(d) Support and coordinate with activities that promote self-sufficiency and strengthen family life.

(e) Provide a comprehensive support service package that includes: medical assistance, food stamps, child care, transportation, child support, and other support services necessary to promote economic independence.

(f) Promote successful transition from public assistance through the provision of job readiness activities, training, and education activities concurrently with employment or seeking employment, family support skills, and follow-up services for problem resolution and job advancement.

(g) Develop partnerships with employers to create job opportunities and meet the needs of both employers and participants.

(h) Provide a program where it is more advantageous to work than not to work by rewarding self-sufficiency.

(i) Implement a program that is clear, focused, and simple to administer.

VI. The goals of the family assistance program shall be to:

(a) Eliminate or reduce the harmful effects of poverty on families and children by providing financial assistance and medical assistance only to families with children in a manner compatible with decency and health.

(b) Promote employment opportunities [on a voluntary basis].

325:2 Definition of Employment-Related Activities. RSA 167:78, IX is repealed and reenacted to read as follows:

IX. “Employment-related activities” mean activities that meet the federally defined work activities in The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), as amended by the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA), and federal regulations promulgated thereunder and further defined in rules adopted pursuant to RSA 541-A.

325:3 Definition of Job Search. RSA 167:78, XIII is repealed and reenacted to read as follows:

XIII. “Job search” means employment related activities that are outlined in the employment program.

325:4 Definition of On-the-Job Training. RSA 167:78, XVIII is repealed and reenacted to read as follows:

XVIII. “On-the-job training” means employment-related activities provided to a person, employed by a private or public employer, that provides knowledge or skills essential to the full and adequate performance of that job.

325:5 Definition of Specialized Services Replaced with Definition of Interim Activities. RSA 167:78, XXII is repealed and reenacted to read as follows:

XXII. “Interim activities” mean those activities intended to address individual or family barriers to employment or to enhance long-term success in the workplace.

325:6 Definitions of Suspension of Job Search and Work for Benefits Program Deleted. Amend RSA 167:78, XXIV - XXVI to read as follows:

XXIV. [“Suspension of job search” means the suspension of a job search by a participant for a predetermined period of time.

XXV.] “Temporary absence” means any assistance group member who is temporarily away from the home for, but not limited to, the following reasons: school attendance, vacation, illness, or work.

[XXVI. “Work for benefits program” means the activities connected with the second 26 weeks of the employment program.]

325:7 Employment Program Eligibility. RSA 167:79 is repealed and reenacted to read as follows:

167:79 Employment Program; Eligibility.

I. For purposes of this subdivision, a person shall be eligible for financial assistance under the employment program who is a needy child deprived of parental support or care by reason of death, continued absence from the home, physical or mental incapacity, and who lives with a parent or an able-bodied specified relative. If the child is living with both parents, one parent shall be able-bodied. The parent or parents of the dependent child or the able-bodied caretaker relative may also be eligible for assistance.

II. The following persons shall be included in the assistance group, unless such person receives state supplemental assistance or supplemental security benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, foster care or adoption assistance, if living in the same household or temporarily absent from the household: any dependent child and all minor blood-related, step, or adoptive brothers and sisters, and all natural, step, or adoptive parents of such children, including cohabitating adults who share a minor child. In the case of a minor parent, the assistance unit may also include all natural, step, or adoptive parents of the minor parent and all minor blood-related, step or adoptive brothers and sisters. If the parents are not residing together a child shall be considered residing with the parent who has physical custody of the child the majority of the time.

III. The following requirements and conditions shall be necessary to establish eligibility for the entire assistance group:

(a) An applicant shall attend appointments necessary for entry into the employment program, including but not necessarily limited to the initial orientation interview.

(b) An applicant whose most recent case closure was the result of sanction for non-compliance in the employment program shall first participate fully in verifiable and approved employment-related activities for a period of 2 consecutive weeks.

(c) The parent or caretaker relative shall comply with the following with regard to any child for whom financial assistance is requested:

(1) Provide information and cooperate in all actions necessary to establish the child’s paternity unless good cause exists.

(2) If the father is not identified, participate in an interview  with a child support worker for the purpose of understanding the importance of child support and establishing paternity prior to any action to deny eligibility and cooperate with all action required to establish paternity and assign support.

(3) Assign to the department the rights to any child or spousal support payments made by a person outside the assistance group to benefit any family member within the assistance group.

(4) In all other ways cooperate with efforts to obtain child or spousal support and identify and locate liable relatives, unless good cause exists. Good cause exists if the conditions defined in RSA 167:82 III (b) are met.

(d) An applicant who voluntarily quits or refuses a job without good cause, as defined in RSA 167:82, III(c), while receiving financial assistance shall first participate fully in verifiable and approved employment-related activities for a period of 2 consecutive weeks.

(e) The assistance group’s net income shall be less than the payment standard for the assistance group size.

(f) The assistance group’s countable resources shall be less than the allowable resource limit established by the department pursuant to RSA 167:81, II.

(g) A written application, signed under a penalty of perjury, shall be completed by the person applying for assistance.

(h) A person shall provide such person’s social security number, or apply for a social security number if the person does not have one.

(i) The identity of all applicants for assistance shall be verified.

(j) A parent or caretaker relative shall appear for an interview.

(k) Each person in the assistance group shall develop all potential sources of income for which such person may be eligible. Each person shall apply for such income, cooperate in applying for such income, and accept the income if eligible.

(l) No person in the assistance group shall be on strike, unless the person establishes to the satisfaction of the commissioner that:

(1) The unemployment results solely from a lockout; or

(2) That to attempt to or to cross the picket line would place the person in physical danger.

(m) An unwed minor parent shall reside with such person’s parent, legal guardian, other adult relative, or in another adult supervised supported arrangement, unless:

(1) The minor parent resided separately from such person’s parent or legal guardian for a period of at least one year before either the birth of the dependent child or the parent’s application for assistance;

(2) The physical or emotional health or safety of the minor parent or dependent child would be jeopardized; or

(3) There is otherwise good cause for the minor parent and dependent child to receive assistance while residing separate from the minor parent’s parent, legal guardian, or other adult relative; or outside of an adult supervised living arrangement.

(n) Any other requirements established by the department by rules adopted pursuant to RSA 541-A as necessary to promote the purpose and goals of this subdivision.

IV. Failure to meet the following requirements shall result in that person being ineligible for assistance:

(a) A person shall be a current resident of the state of New Hampshire.

(b) A person shall not be an inmate of a public or private institution.

(c) A person shall be a United States citizen, or shall meet the citizenship requirements established in PRWORA, as amended.

(d) Any other requirements established by the department by rules adopted pursuant to RSA 541-A as necessary to promote the purpose and goals of this subdivision.

V.(a) The following persons are not eligible for assistance:

(1) A person who is not a United States citizen, shall meet the citizenship requirements established in PRWORA, as amended.

(2) A spouse of a caretaker relative.

(3) Other persons as determined by the department by rules adopted pursuant to RSA 541-A as necessary to promote the purpose and goals of this subdivision.

(b) The treatment of needs, income, and resources of such persons in the determination of eligibility and the amount of the financial assistance payment to other persons in the assistance group shall be determined by the department by rules adopted in accordance with RSA 541-A.

VI. Failure to meet the following requirements shall result in the imposition of sanctions and the reduction of benefits or case closure for the assistance group:

(a) A parent or caretaker relative shall comply with all of the following for any child for whom financial assistance is requested:

(1) Provide information and cooperate in all action necessary to establish the child’s paternity.

(2) Assign to the department the rights to any child or spousal support payments made by a person outside the assistance group to benefit any family member within the assistance group.

(3) In all other ways cooperate with efforts to obtain child or spousal support and identify and locate liable relatives, unless good cause exists. Good cause exists if the conditions defined in RSA 167:82, III(b) are met.

(b) A parent or caretaker relative shall not voluntarily quit a job or refuse a job unless there is good cause as defined in RSA 167:82, III(c).

(c) A parent or caretaker relative and case members shall attend and cooperate with all required appointments and activities for entry into and participation in the employment program.

(d) Applicants and participants of the employment program shall participate in the development of an employment contract pursuant to RSA 167:88, shall agree to the terms of the employment contract, and shall cooperate fully with the steps established in the employment contract.

(e) Any other requirements established by the department by rules adopted pursuant to RSA 541-A as necessary to promote the purpose and goals of this subdivision

325:8 Employment Program Characteristics. Amend RSA 167:82 to read as follows:

167:82 Employment Program Characteristics.

I. The program shall provide financial assistance to assistance groups who meet and comply with all the eligibility and employment program participation requirements under RSA 167:79, 167:80, and 167:81.

II. The following persons shall be temporarily [deferred] exempt from [the] participation [requirements in RSA 167:85, 167:90, and 167:91] in employment-related activities:

(a) Dependent children under the age of 16.

(b) Dependent children age 16 or older who are full-time students in an elementary, secondary, vocational/technical school, or the equivalent.

(c) [One] A parent or caretaker relative [per assistance group] who is personally providing care for a child under [the deferral age established by the department by rules adopted pursuant to RSA 541-A] one year of age, subject to a maximum exemption period for an individual of 12 months over their lifetime. A parent or caretaker relative who has exhausted the maximum allowable exemption and who subsequently gives birth to a child for whom financial assistance is requested, shall be permitted exemption immediately following the child’s birth for a maximum period of 12 weeks.

(d) A parent or caretaker relative who is 60 years of age or older.

(e) [A pregnant woman as defined by the department by rules adopted pursuant to RSA 541-A.] A pregnant woman who is deemed medically unable to participate, as certified by a licensed physician. The physician shall certify, on a form provided by the department, the duration and limitations of the disability.

(f) [A person who is employed full-time as defined by the department by rules adopted pursuant to RSA 541-A.

(g)] A person who is temporarily unable to participate in program requirements due to illness or incapacity as certified by a licensed physician or board certified psychologist. The physician or psychologist shall certify, on a form provided by the department, the duration and limitations of the disability.

[(h)](g) A parent or caretaker relative required to be in the home to care for another relative or assistance group member who resides in the same household due to that member’s illness, or incapacity or disability; and there are no other household members to provide the care; and required care is considered necessary by a licensed physician or board certified psychologist. The physician or psychologist shall certify, on a form provided by the department, the duration that care is required. The household shall meet participation and verification requirements in PRWORA, as amended by the DRA, and federal regulations promulgated thereunder.

(h) Temporary exemptions shall remain in effect until the individual enters his or her 40th month of receipt of TANF financial assistance.

(i) A person with significant employment-related barriers, as determined by the department by rules adopted pursuant to RSA 541-A, that prevent the person from accepting immediate employment.

(j) Any other person as determined by the department by rules adopted pursuant to RSA 541-A as necessary to promote the purpose and goals of this subdivision.

III. Financial assistance for an assistance group shall be reduced and can lead to case closure subject to the sanction policy as established under RSA 167:79, VI, 167:82, III, and 167:82, IV and by rules adopted pursuant to RSA 541-A, if a parent or caretaker relative of the assistance group:

(a) Fails to assign child support rights to the department.

(b) Fails to cooperate with child support requirements without good cause. A parent or caretaker relative shall have good cause for noncooperation with child support requirements when efforts to establish paternity or secure support are against the best interests of the child or parent or caretaker relative or when efforts to establish paternity or secure support can reasonably be anticipated to result in physical or emotional harm to the child or parent or caretaker relative. A parent or caretaker relative shall also have good cause for noncooperation with child support requirements when at least one of the following conditions exists:

(1) The child for whom support is sought was conceived as a result of incest or forcible rape;

(2) Proceedings for adoption of the child are pending in a court; or

(3) A social service agency is helping the parent or caretaker relative decide whether to relinquish the child for adoption, and the discussions have not occurred for more than 3 months.

(c) Voluntarily quits a job consisting of at least 20 hours of work per week without good cause 60 days or less prior to the date of application for financial assistance, and such parent or caretaker relative has not become reemployed at a level consisting of at least 20 hours of work per week. Good cause for leaving employment shall include any of the following:

(1) Discrimination by an employer based on age, race, sex, color, physical or mental disability, religious belief, national origin, or political beliefs;

(2) Work demands or conditions that render continued employment unreasonable, including but not limited to, employment in which the degree of risk to health or safety is unreasonable or employment yielding weekly earnings of less than the state or federal hourly minimum wage;

(3) Resignation by a person under the age of 60 which is recognized by the employer as retirement;

(4) Employment which becomes or is revealed to be unsuitable following acceptance of such employment, including, but not limited to, employment which the parent or caretaker relative is physically or mentally unfit to perform, or employment in which the distance from the parent or caretaker relative’s home to the place of employment is unreasonable considering the wage and the time and cost of commuting;

(5) Acceptance by the parent or caretaker relative of new employment[, or enrollment of at least half-time in any recognized school, training program or institution of higher education,] that requires the parent or caretaker relative to leave current employment;

(6) Leaving a job in order to accept a bona-fide job offer which job offer, because of subsequent circumstances beyond the control of the applicant, is withdrawn or results in employment of fewer than 20 hours per week or weekly earnings of less than the state or federal hourly minimum wage;

(7) Leaving a job in connection with patterns of employment in which workers frequently move from one employer to another, such as migrant farm labor or construction work, even though employment at the new site has not actually begun;

(8) Leaving a job because of circumstances beyond the control of the parent or caretaker relative which render continued employment impracticable, including but not limited to, lack of transportation or child care, or illness, incapacity or disability of the parent or caretaker relative, or illness, incapacity or disability of another household member serious enough to require the presence in the home of the parent or caretaker relative, net loss of cash income, required court appearance, or mandated appointments; or

(9) Other good cause.

(d) Voluntarily quits or refuses a job without good cause as defined in RSA 167:82, III(c) while receiving financial assistance. A parent or caretaker relative shall be considered to have voluntarily quit a job while receiving financial assistance if such person fails to report for work without good cause as defined in RSA 167:82, III(c), resulting in the termination of the parent or caretaker relative’s employment while receiving assistance. A parent or caretaker relative who is fired or resigns from a job at the request of the employer due to such person’s inability to maintain the employer’s normal work productivity standard shall not be considered to have voluntarily quit the job.

(e) Fails to comply without good cause with ongoing participation requirements in RSA 167:85, 167:88, 167:90, or 167:91. Good cause shall exist when circumstances are beyond the participant’s control, including, but not limited to, lack of transportation or child care, or illness, incapacity or disability of the participant, or illness, incapacity or disability of another household member serious enough to require the presence in the home of the participant, net loss of cash income, required court appearance, mandated appointments, or unreasonable risk to the health or safety of any household member. The participant shall be allowed 7 days from the date of notification of non-compliance to present verifiable information supporting good cause.

(f) Fails to comply with other eligibility requirements as determined by the department by rules adopted pursuant to RSA 541-A as necessary to promote the purpose and goals of this subdivision.

(g) Fails to provide verification of their participation in required activities or other verification as established by PRWORA, as amended by DRA, and federal regulations promulgated thereunder.

IV. Financial assistance for an assistance group shall be reduced if a non-deferred dependent child of the assistance group:

(a) Fails to comply without good cause with ongoing participation requirements as required by RSA 167:85, 167:88, 167:90, or 167:91. Good cause shall exist when circumstances are beyond the participant’s control, including, but not limited to, lack of transportation or child care, or illness, incapacity or disability of the participant, or illness, incapacity or disability of another household member serious enough to require the presence in the home of the participant, net loss of cash income, required court appearance, mandated appointments, or unreasonable risk to the health or safety of any household member.

(b) Failure to comply with other eligibility requirements as determined by the department by rules adopted pursuant to RSA 541-A as necessary to promote the purpose and goals of this subdivision.

V. [The department shall establish reduction rates, and the duration of the reduction for reductions under RSA 167:79, VI, 167:82, III, and 167:82, IV by rules adopted pursuant to RSA 541-A. The initial reduction rate imposed on any household shall be determined by disregarding the needs of the participant who is out of compliance, but not the needs of the dependent children. If the participant remains out of compliance at the end of the initial reduction period, then a greater reduction may be imposed which partially disregards the needs of the dependent children. No reduction shall be imposed on a household unless the participant who is out of compliance has received prior written notice of the reason for the reduction of assistance and the specific actions which must be taken in order to reinstate full assistance. No reduction shall be imposed which disregards the needs of the children when the parent or caretaker relative who is out of compliance lacks the means necessary to immediately come into compliance.] The department shall establish a sanction policy for participants who are non-compliant with program requirements. The sanction policy shall establish the timing and occurrence of benefit reduction and termination of the TANF financial assistance case for non-compliance as provided in this paragraph. The following progression of sanctions shall apply:

(a) The initial sanction shall consist of reduction of financial assistance benefits representing the needs of the individual who is out of compliance. The second level of sanction shall consist of reduction of 1/3 of the adjusted payment standard for the assistance group. The third level of the sanction shall consist of reduction of 2/3 of the adjusted payment standard for the assistance group. The initial sanction and the second level of sanction shall each apply for a 2-week period. The third level of sanction shall apply for a 4-week period, at the end of which the TANF financial assistance case shall close if the participant remains in noncompliance. Progressive sanctions shall apply unless and until the participant demonstrates full compliance.

(b) For non-compliance in the employment program or for voluntarily quitting a job as defined in RSA 167:82, III(c), full compliance is demonstrated by completion of verifiable participation in approved employment-related activities for 2 consecutive weeks.

(c) For non-compliance in paternity identification or assignment of support, full compliance is demonstrated by fully cooperating in all action necessary to identify and establish paternity or to identify, locate, assign and obtain support.

(d) For non-compliance by a non-deferred dependent child in participation requirements, the initial sanction shall consist of reduction of financial assistance in the amount established to meet the needs of the dependent child. The benefit reduction shall continue for the duration of the non-compliance.

(e) For all sanctions, the reduction period shall apply to the period immediately following the determination of non-compliance. A determination of non-compliance shall be made within 10 days of an act of non-compliance, barring a finding of good cause. The participant shall be allowed 2 weeks from the date of benefit reduction to demonstrate full compliance. No sanction shall be imposed on a household unless the participant who is out of compliance has received prior written notice of the reason for the reduction of assistance and the specific actions which must be taken in order to reinstate full assistance.

(f) A participant, other than a non-deferred dependent child, who is in sanction status for a cumulative period of 3 months over a 12-month period shall have his or her TANF case closed.

(g) For a TANF financial assistance case that closes in sanction status, in the event of reapplication for financial assistance at a later time, the participant shall demonstrate full compliance before the TANF financial assistance case may be processed.

VI. Participants shall be eligible for medical assistance as categorically needy provided they receive financial assistance under this subdivision, or are otherwise eligible to receive such assistance but do not. An assistance group that becomes ineligible due to new or increased earnings shall remain eligible for medical assistance for 12 months from when the assistance group became ineligible pursuant to rules adopted under RSA 541-A.

VII.(a) Financial assistance payments shall be based on the characteristics of the assistance group under this section and the standard of need and payment standard as authorized in RSA 167:7, II. The financial assistance grant is the difference between the assistance group’s net income and the payment standard. The financial assistance payments may be contingent on the performance of program activities and may be made after the performance of such program activities. The following disregards and deductions shall be allowed in determining net income:

(1) An applicant earned income disregard.

(2) A participant earned income disregard.

(3) A deduction for all amounts actually paid by the assistance group for court-ordered payments.

(4) A deduction for amounts actually paid for child care expenses not to exceed the applicable rate as determined by the department by rules adopted pursuant to RSA 541-A.

(5) [Repealed.]

(6) Any other disregard or deduction established by the department by rules adopted pursuant to RSA 541-A as necessary to promote the purpose and goals of this subdivision.

(b) The department may establish the amount of the earned income disregard or any other disregard or deduction by rules adopted pursuant to RSA 541-A.

VIII. When the department has made a final determination that a parent or caretaker relative, without good cause, has failed to comply with employment program work requirements under RSA 167:85, and assistance to the household has been reduced or closed pursuant to RSA 167:82, III(c)-(e) or IV(a), the amount of reduction shall be a qualified state assistance reduction. The reduction or closure shall remain a qualified state assistance reduction for so long as the parent or caretaker relative is a New Hampshire employment program recipient and maintains the present ability to cure the reduction by complying with employment program work requirements. The department shall provide advance notice to the parent or caretaker relative of the amount and effective date of the qualified state assistance reduction or closure and that a city or town may consider the amount as deemed income for purposes of calculating eligibility for and the amount of general assistance. Upon request, the department, in a timely manner, shall make available to the welfare administrator of any city or town information as to the existence and amount of any qualified state assistance reduction or closure that has been imposed on any person applying for assistance from that municipality.

325:9 Infringement on Rights of Other Employees Prohibited. Amend RSA 167:82-a, I to read as follows:

I. The employment program shall not [use participants] require individuals to participate in the employment program in any way contrary to federal law under section 407(f) of the Social Security Act.

325:10 Rulemaking; Notice Requirements. Amend RSA 167:83, II(b) to read as follows:

(b) Notification of case decisions which affect the type or amount of benefits, [or] the level of eligibility [to participants], or changes in participation requirements.

325:11 Rulemaking. Amend RSA 167:83, II(o) to read as follows:

(o) Operation of the employment program and employment-related activities as required by PRWORA, as amended by DRA, and federal regulations promulgated thereunder.

(p) Any other matters necessary to implement the program in a manner that promotes the purpose and goals of this subdivision.

325:12 Right to Notice of Type and Amount of Benefits. Amend RSA 167:83, III(c) to read as follows:

(c) To be notified of the decision relative to eligibility, benefit amounts, and of any changes which affect the benefit amount, the level of eligibility, or changes in participation requirements.

325:13 Family Assistance Program. Amend RSA 167:84, I and II to read as follows:

I. The family assistance program shall provide financial assistance for dependent children who:

(a) Are deprived of parental support or care by reason of death, continued absence from the home, physical or mental incapacity[, or the unemployment or underemployment] of a parent; and

(b) Reside with either their nonable-bodied specified relative or a caretaker relative who is not included in the assistance group. Financial assistance shall be provided to the parents of the dependent child for the benefit of the child. Financial assistance may be provided to the nonable-bodied caretaker relative for the benefit of the child.

II. An applicant shall meet all eligibility requirements under RSA 167:79, II, III, IV, V, VI(a), RSA 167:80 and RSA 167:81 to be eligible for financial assistance under this section, and shall be subject to applicable sanctions, including case closure, under RSA 167:82, III(a), III(b), and III(f).

325:14 Employment Program Work Component; Employment-Related Activities. RSA 167:85 is repealed and reenacted to read as follows:

167:85 Employment Program Work Component; Employment-Related Activities. All applicants and participants in the employment program shall attend and participate in required appointments, employment contract development, and employment-related activities for eligibility into, and while participating in, the program unless temporarily exempt from participation as authorized by RSA 167:82, II. Noncompliance with employment-related activities without good cause shall be subject to financial assistance reductions and case closure pursuant to RSA 167:82, III and IV.

I. Participants shall attend and participate in employment-related activities within the parameters specified by PRWORA, as amended by DRA, and federal regulations promulgated thereunder. An individual is participating in work and work activities for a month in a fiscal year if the individual is participating in work activities for a minimum of 30 hours per week, except as noted in paragraph III, of which not fewer than 20 hours per week consist of participation in the following core activities and within the limitations specified:

(a) Unsubsidized employment.

(b) Subsidized private sector employment.

(c) Subsidized public sector employment.

(d) Work experience if sufficient private sector employment is not available.

(e) On-the-job training.

(f) Job search and job readiness assistance, limited to 4 consecutive weeks and 6 weeks total.

(g) Community service programs.

(h) Vocational educational training which includes post-secondary education, within the following limitations:

(1) Participation shall not exceed 12 months.

(2) Not more than 30 percent of individuals may be determined to be engaged in such activity for the purposes of determining monthly participation rates.

(3) Within any other limitations established by PRWORA.

(4) An extension beyond the limitations outlined may be granted for a maximum of 3 months if deemed necessary in order to provide for successful transition to employment and approved by the department.

(i) The provision of child care services to an individual who is participating in a community service program.

II. Additionally, the individual may participate in the following secondary activities for 10 additional hours in order to combine with core activities and meet the 30-hour weekly minimum:

(a) Job skills training directly related to employment.

(b) Education directly related to employment, in the case of a recipient who has not received a high school diploma or a certificate of high school equivalency.

(c) Satisfactory attendance at secondary school or in a course of study leading to a certificate of general equivalence, in the case of a recipient who has not completed secondary school or received such a certificate.

III. A recipient who is married or is a single head of household and has not attained 20 years of age shall be required to maintain satisfactory attendance at secondary school or the equivalent during the month or participate in education directly related to employment for at least 20 hours per week pursuant to federal regulations.

IV. A single parent with a child under 6 years of age shall be deemed to be meeting work participation requirements if participating in core work activities for 20 hours per week.

V. A person temporarily exempted under RSA 167:82, II may participate in the employment program on a voluntary basis to the extent that the program is available and funding and resources are sufficient as determined by the commissioner. If such a person participating in the employment program does not meet the requirements of this section without good cause pursuant to RSA 167:82, the person shall not re-enroll for 3 months.

VI. The commissioner shall waive requirements under this section if funding, resources, and support services are not available to administer this section.

325:15 Employment Assessment; Employment Contract. Amend RSA 167:88 to read as follows:

167:88 [Initial] Employment [Appraisal and] Assessment; Employment Contract.

I. The commissioner shall [determine]assess a participant’s ability for employment based on:

(a) Such person’s work experience, skills, training, education, physical abilities, local labor market area conditions, and if appropriate, aptitude and vocational interests.

(b) Such person’s child care, transportation, and other support service needs.

(c) Any other factors that the employment program considers relevant in accordance with rules adopted pursuant to RSA 541-A.

II. The commissioner may make the [determination] assessment in paragraph I through various methods, including, but not limited to, interviews, testing, counseling sessions, and self-assessment instruments. Participants identified as needing additional services not provided by the commissioner may be referred to community agencies, resources, and services.

III. The commissioner shall develop an employment contract in conjunction with the participant. To the extent that it is feasible and consistent with the purpose and goals of this subdivision, the employment contract shall reflect the preferences of the participant with respect to goals for employment, training or education. The employment contract shall:

(a) Indicate employment goals for achieving long-term economic independence, including goals for immediate employment in the labor market.

(b) Outline a planned series of action steps necessary to achieve employment goals.

(c) Include mandatory participation in interim activities as assessed by the employment program.

(d) Describe the services to be provided by the employment program.

[(d)](e) Identify the support service needs of the participant and indicate how those needs are being addressed.

IV. The commissioner shall make the final approval of the employment contract.

325:16 Interim Activities. RSA 167:91 is repealed and reenacted to read as follows:

167:91 Interim Activities. The following describes interim activities and associated participant requirements:

I.(a) Each participant less than 20 years of age, who is not enrolled in school and who does not have a general education diploma (GED) or a high school diploma (HSD) shall:

(1) Actively pursue an education designed to prepare such person to qualify for a high school equivalency diploma; or

(2) Enroll in school to pursue a high school diploma.

(b) Each participant required to pursue an education under subparagraph I(a) and who is unable to obtain a GED or HSD in a specified period of time may participate in activities intended to enhance basic literacy and work skills.

(c) A participant shall be permitted to volunteer to participate under paragraphs I and II as funding and resources permit.

II. A participant shall be exempt from the requirements of paragraph I if:

(a) The participant is unable to successfully complete educational activities and is willing and able to participate in employment-related activities; or

(b) The participant’s involvement in educational activities is inappropriate, based on assessment and the employment goals established in the employment contract, and such goals do not require a high school diploma or equivalent.

III. An individual may participate in interim activities when the activity has been determined to be reasonable and necessary for his or her entrance into or success in the work force. Participation in an interim activity may not count as an approved activity under PRWORA, as amended by the DRA and federal regulations promulgated thereunder. Interim activities include:

(a) Mental health counseling services.

(b) Homelessness services.

(c) Substance abuse services.

(d) Domestic violence services.

(e) DCYF services.

(f) Vocational educational training beyond that countable as an employment-related activity under PRWORA, as amended by DRA.

(g) Post-secondary education and vocational educational training beyond that countable as an employment-related activity under PRWORA, as amended by DRA.

(h) English as a second language services.

(i) Job search and job readiness beyond that which is countable as employment-related under PRWORA, as amended by DRA.

IV. The department shall be the payor of last resort for all expenses involved in any training and postsecondary educational activity, and participants shall be required to apply for any other available assistance, prior to receiving financial assistance from the department. Financial assistance for training and educational programs shall have monetary limits established by the department by rules adopted by the commissioner pursuant to RSA 541-A.

V. The duration of services under this section shall be determined by the commissioner by rules adopted pursuant to RSA 541-A as necessary to promote the purpose and goals of this subdivision.

325:17 Alternative Employment Experience Program Renamed Work Experience and Community Service Program. Amend RSA 167:91-a and 167:91-b to read as follows:

167:91-a Infringement on Rights of Other Employees Prohibited.

I. The [alternative employment experience] work experience and community service program shall not [use participants] permit individuals in the employment program to participate in any way contrary to federal law under section 407(f) of the Social Security Act.

II. No participant in the [alternative employment experience] work experience and community service program shall be required to work for more hours than would be needed to produce an equivalent compensation if the participant were paid at the federal minimum wage level, unless a greater number of hours is necessary for the participant to meet federal work participation requirements.

III. Participants in the [alternative employment experience] work experience and community service program shall receive the protections regarding sexual harassment and work conditions, not related to compensation and benefits, which are available to regular employees in that workplace such as safe environment, non-discrimination, and adequate rest and meal periods.

IV. Participants in the [alternative employment experience] work experience and community service program administered by the state shall be considered employees of both the state and the sponsor for workers’ compensation purposes only, and any claims for workers’ compensation thereunder shall be charged to the temporary assistance to needy families program. The state and the sponsor shall both be entitled to the exclusivity of remedy provisions of RSA 281-A:8. For purposes other than workers’ compensation, the state shall not be vicariously liable for the actions or omissions of the sponsor and the sponsor shall not be vicariously liable for the actions or omissions of the state. Nothing in this section shall prohibit any direct contractual liability between the state and the sponsor.

167:91-b [Alternative Employment Experience] Work Experience and Community Service Program Participants; Workers’ Compensation Eligibility.

I. For the purposes of RSA 281-A, an employment program participant is an employee of both the state and the sponsor. In the event that it is determined that the participant has been subject to an injury or occupational disease producing a disability arising out of and in the course of participation in the employment program, the program shall not provide compensation pursuant to RSA 281-A:28, 281-A:28-a, 281-A:31, and 281-A:31-a, but the participant shall receive benefits from the employment program while otherwise eligible, or compensation equivalent to those benefits if the participant becomes ineligible for benefits under RSA 167. When determining the amount of compensation provided pursuant to RSA 281-A:32 for a scheduled permanent impairment award, the amount of compensation shall be calculated by using the minimum wage at the time of injury multiplied by the average number of hours worked per week or the number of hours agreed to by the program and the participant, whichever is higher.

II. The department of health and human services may provide this benefit by appropriate means including purchasing and serving as the master policyholder for any insurance, by self-insurance or by administrative services contract. Except as otherwise provided in this section, all other provisions of RSA 281-A apply.

325:18 New Sections; Pilot Performance Measurement System, TANF Advisory Council, and TANF Pilot Diversion Program and Study Established. Amend RSA 167 by inserting after section 93 the following new sections:

167:93-a Pilot Performance Measurement System.

I. The department of health and human services shall establish a performance measurement system designed to assist the department in meeting the goals of the TANF reauthorization program, including, but not limited to, a mission statement identifying values that focus on qualitative outcomes. The pilot system shall be adopted on or before January 1, 2007. The system shall include: measurement and tracking of individual employee performance; tracking and analysis of programmatic outcomes; and tracking of other data or information otherwise useful in establishing success in moving clients into work participation, as defined by federal law. The department shall, for each indicator, develop performance and benchmark scores that reflect normal or expected performance. In developing these indicators, the department shall consult with the oversight committee on health and human services, established in RSA 126-A:13.

II. The department shall report annually. The report shall include data and comparison with prior years and shall indicate normal or expected performance levels. Each annual report shall be made to the speaker of the house of representatives, the president of the senate, the governor, and the appropriate legislative policy committees. The first such report shall be submitted by December 15, 2007.

167:93-b TANF Advisory Council Established.

I. An advisory council on Temporary Assistance To Needy Families (TANF), hereinafter called the TANF advisory council, is hereby established. The advisory council shall consist of the following members:

(a) The commissioner of health and human services, or designee.

(b) The commissioner of employment security, or designee.

(c) The commissioner of the department of resources and economic development, or designee.

(d) The director of the division of family assistance, department of health and human services.

(e) A member of the senate, appointed by the senate president.

(f) A member of the house of representatives, appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives.

(g) A representative of a child advocacy organization, appointed by the governor.

(h) A member of the City and Town Welfare Association, appointed by the governor.

(i) A resident of the state and of the lay public, having no official connection with TANF, appointed by the governor.

II. The advisory council shall meet twice annually. The terms of appointed members shall be for 5 years, except that the terms of members appointed under subparagraphs I(a)-(f) shall be coterminous with their terms of public office of employment. Members of the council shall serve without compensation but shall be entitled to receive mileage and expenses when in performance of the duties required under this section.

167:93-c TANF Pilot Diversion Program and Study. The department of health and human services shall perform a pilot diversion program and study for a limited population of TANF applicants who receive assessment and benefits prior to entry into the TANF program. The study shall assess the feasibility, effectiveness and work participation rate impact of a diversion program. The department shall report its findings to the oversight committee on health and human services on December 31, 2006.

167:93-d Performance Measurement System. The department of health and human services may establish an outcome measurement system with quarterly reports and yearly summaries to the oversight committee on health and human services, established in RSA 126-A:13, with the following areas as guidelines:

I. The job retention and earnings gain indicators using the same methodology as the TANF high performance measures.

II. The number and percent of cash assistance recipients who close each month due to employment, the average hourly, weekly, and monthly wages, the average total weekly and monthly total income, the number and percent who return to cash assistance after three, six and 12 months.

III. The extended earnings of families who leave TANF due to employment.

IV. Numbers and percentages of families who leave TANF due to employment and stay employed.

V. Numbers and percentage of families who increase their earnings after leaving TANF.

VI. Numbers and percentages of TANF families that move out of poverty.

VII. Poverty and child poverty rates and out of wedlock births and the national ranking of New Hampshire.

VIII. The impact of TANF policies on local assistance as reported by the Local Welfare Administrator’s Association.

IX. Any other measures selected by the department which show how TANF has moved families out of poverty and into employment.

325:19 Financial Assistance Program for 2-Parent Need Families to be Established. By October 1, 2006, the department of health and human services shall establish a financial assistance program for 2-parent needy families with dependent children in which one parent is underemployed or unemployed. With the exception of parental underemployment or unemployment, client eligibility, program requirements and administration shall be in accordance with RSA 167 and the rules adopted under RSA 167.

325:20 Legislative Oversight. The oversight committee established by RSA 126-A:13 shall monitor changes to the state TANF program made pursuant to this act and shall provide informational meetings on such changes to the general court.

325:21 Job Search Program. Amend RSA 167:90, I to read as follows:

I. The commissioner shall provide appropriate employment services as funding and resources permit, including, but not limited to, job referrals, job development, workshops, counseling, labor market information, vocational assessment and testing, and referral to appropriate community agencies and resources. The commissioner shall operate structured job search activities, referred to as Job Club, in all employment program offices. Job Club shall be staffed by positions funded from the TANF reserve of 100 percent federal funds. These positions shall be in addition to the staffing of the employment program office.

325:22 TANF Appropriation. The sum of $500,000 is hereby appropriated, for the biennium ending June 30, 2007, to the department of health and human services for the purpose of supporting 2-parent families in the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. The governor is authorized to draw a warrant for said sum out of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated.

325:23 Effective Date. This act shall take effect October 1, 2006.

Approved: Enacted in accordance with Article 44, Part II, of New Hampshire Constitution, without signature of governor, June 24,2006.

Effective: October 1, 2006

Links

HB1331 at GenCourtMobile

Action Dates

Date Body Type

Bill Text Revisions

HB1331 Revision: 9607 Date: Jan. 21, 2010, midnight

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