A bill has passed in the Michigan Senate that would require those receiving public assistance to do some “volunteer” work. Another bill, which passed the House Commerce Committee, requires drug testing, revoking benefits for welfare recipients who refuse the test or who test positive.
“What [the legislation] does, it says, in order for your to receive your cash assistance, your welfare check, you must provide some kind of community service to the community,” said the volunteer work bill’s sponsor, State Senator Joe Hune, who represents Livingston and Shiawasse counties in Mid-Michigan.
Hune says he was inspired by a constituent who began to volunteer while on welfare — and that community service evolved into full employment.
“The whole intention is to make certain folks have some skin in the game, and I don’t feel that there’s any problem with making folks go out and do some kind of community service in order to receive their cash assistance,” Hune said.
State Sen. Vincent Gregory, D-Southfield, thinks the bills take aim at people who are already suffering their lowest moments.
“These people, they already need as much money as they can get, they wouldn’t be asking for it if they didn’t need it,” he said. “It seems that this philosophy that everyone must have skin in the game, you know, it’s like you may have some financial issues, you may be down and out … That kind of philosophy to me — if you’re healthy bodied, I can see it — but for a lot of people, I just think that it is very intrusive.”
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