H. B. 4146

(By Delegates Fleischauer, Compton, Marshall,

Houston, Leggett, Linch and Manuel)

(Originating in the Committee on Finance)

[March 1, 2000]

A BILL to amend and reenact sections two, three and seven, article nine, chapter nine of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, all relating to the West Virginia works program; including participation in an approved secondary degree program or programs as being part of "work activities"; adding definition of "education"; and work requirements.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That sections two, three and seven, article nine, chapter nine of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended and reenacted, all to read as follows:
§9-9-2. Legislative findings; purpose.

(a) The Legislature hereby finds and declares that:
(1) The entitlement of any person to receive federal-state cash assistance is hereby discontinued;
(2) At-risk families are capable of becoming self-supporting;
(3) A reformed assistance program should both expect and assist a parent and caretaker-relatives in at-risk families to support their dependent children and children for which they are caretakers;
(4) Every parent or caretaker-relative can exhibit responsible patterns of behavior so as to be a positive role model;
(5) Every parent or caretaker-relative who receives cash assistance has a responsibility to participate in an activity to help them prepare for, obtain and maintain gainful employment. Participation in an approved postsecondary degree program, or other approved educational program, qualifies, to the extent permitted by applicable federal law and regulation, as a work activity: Provided, That participants demonstrate adequate progress toward completion of the program;

(6) For a parent or caretaker-relative who receives cash assistance and for whom full-time work is not feasible, participation in some activity is expected to further themselves, their family or their community;
(7) The state should promote the value of work and the capabilities of individuals;
(8) Job development efforts should enhance the employment opportunities of participants;
(9) An effective public education system is the key to long-term self-support; and
(10) A reformed assistance program should be structured to achieve a clear set of outcomes; deliver services in an expedient, effective and efficient manner; and maximize community support for participants. After five years, there is expected to be a decrease in the following: (i) The number of persons receiving public assistance; and (ii) the amount of time an individual remains on public assistance; and
(11) The state should encourage education as a key component in furthering self-sufficiency, family support, and a skilled workforce.
(b) The goals of the program are to achieve more efficient and effective use of public assistance funds; reduce dependency on public programs by promoting self-sufficiency; and structure the assistance programs to emphasize employment and personal responsibility. The program is to be evaluated on the increase in employment rates in the program areas; the completion of educational and training programs; the increased compliance in preventive health activities, including immunizations; and a decrease in the case-load of division of personnel.

§9-9-3. Definitions.
In addition to the rules for the construction of statutes in section ten, article two, chapter two of this code and the words and terms defined in section two, article one of this chapter, unless a different meaning appears from the context:
(a) "At-risk family" means a group of persons living in the same household, living below the federally-designated poverty level, lacking the resources to become self-supporting, and consisting of a dependent minor child or children living with a parent, stepparent or caretaker-relative; an "at-risk family" may include an unmarried minor parent and his or her dependent child or children who live in an adult-supervised setting;
(b) "Beneficiary" or "participant" means any parent or caretaker-relative in an at-risk family who receives cash assistance for himself or herself and family members;
(c) "Cash assistance" means temporary assistance for needy families or diversionary assistance;
(d) "Challenge" means any fact, circumstance or situation that prevents a person from becoming self-sufficient or from seeking, obtaining or maintaining employment of any kind, including physical or mental disabilities, lack of education, testing, training, counseling, child care arrangements, transportation, medical treatment or substance abuse treatment;
(e) "Community or personal development" means activities designed or intended to eliminate challenges to participation in self-sufficiency activities. These activities are to provide community benefit and enhance personal responsibility, including, but not limited to, classes or counseling for learning life skills or parenting, dependent care, job readiness, volunteer work, participation in sheltered workshops or substance abuse treatment;
(f) "Department" means the state department of health and human resources;
(g) "Division" means the division of human services;
(h) "Education" means any hours spent regularly attending and making adequate progress in any approved job training, GED, literacy, ABE, or equivalent program including any appropriate remedial program, or postsecondary program. These activities shall be counted towards satisfaction of the work requirement;

(h) (i) "Income" means money received by any member of an at-risk family which can be used at the discretion of the household to meet its basic needs: Provided, That "income" does not include:
(1) Supplemental security income paid to any member or members of the at-risk family;
(2) Earnings of minor children; or
(3) Payments received from earned income tax credit or tax refunds;
(i) (j) "Personal responsibility contract" means a written agreement entered into by the division and a beneficiary which establishes the responsibilities and obligations of the beneficiary;
(j) (k) "Secretary" means the secretary of the state department of health and human resources;
(k) (l) "Subsidized employment" means employment with earnings provided by an employer who receives a subsidy from the division for the creation and maintenance of the employment position;
(l) (m) "Support services" includes, but is not limited to, the following services: Child care; medicaid; transportation assistance; information and referral; resource development services which includes assisting families to receive child support enforcement and supplemental security income; family support services which includes parenting, budgeting and family planning; relocation assistance; and mentoring services;
(m) (n) "Unsubsidized employment" means employment with earnings provided by an employer who does not receive a subsidy from the division for the creation and maintenance of the employment position;
(n) (o) "Work" means unsubsidized employment, subsidized employment, work experience or community or personal development; and
(o) (p) "Work experience" means unpaid structured work activities that are provided in an environment where performance expectations are similar to those existing in unsubsidized employment and which provide training in occupational areas that can realistically be expected to lead to unsubsidized employment.

§9-9-7. Work requirements.
(a) Unless otherwise exempted by the provisions of section eight of this article, the West Virginia works program shall require that anyone who possesses a high school diploma, or its equivalent, or anyone who is of the age of twenty years or more, to work or attend an educational or training program for a minimum of twenty hours per week to receive any form of cash assistance. Work activities include, to the extent permitted by applicable federal law and regulation, approved educational programs as defined in section three of this article.
In accordance with federal law or regulation, the work, education and training requirements of this section are waived for any qualifying participant with a child under six years of age if the participant is unable to obtain appropriate and available child care services. In order for any participant to receive cash assistance, he or she shall enter into personal responsibility contracts pursuant to the provisions of section nine of this article.
(b) The department of health and human resources and representatives of all college and university systems of West Virginia shall develop a plan to utilize the programs available at the colleges and universities to assist beneficiaries or participants who are enrolled in two and four year programs to meet the work activity requirements of the federal government or the provisions of this article.
(c) On or before the first day of December, one thousand nine hundred ninety-nine, the department shall submit the plan and any findings, conclusions and recommendations, together with drafts of any legislation necessary to effectuate its recommendations, to the legislative oversight commission on health and human resources for consideration pursuant to the provisions of section nineteen of this article.