Public assistance research exemption approved

A bill aimed at promoting research on the impact of poverty on children was given final approval March 24.

LB1081, sponsored by Lincoln Sen. Kathy Campbell, will allow low-income Nebraskans to be part of a nationwide study on the impact of public assistance on early childhood development.

The bill will exclude the following types of public assistance from a participant’s income when determining eligibility:
• the child care subsidy program;
• the low-income home energy assistance program;
• Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); and
• Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The exclusion is limited to $4,000 per year for four years and will be discontinued at the end of 2022.

Omaha Sen. Heath Mello offered an amendment during select file debate March 21, which incorporated provisions of his LB701. The amendment extends provisions under the state’s public assistance statutes relating to education work requirements.

Mello said Nebraska law currently allows certain educational opportunities—such as hours spent working toward a GED, diploma or associate degree—to count toward core work requirements for the purposes of a self-sufficiency contract under the Aid to Dependent Children program.

“[These educational activities] are key for families working to move out of poverty and ultimately transition off of state public benefits,” he said.

The amendment removes the termination date of the provisions, which had been set for Dec. 31, 2016.

Following adoption of the Mello amendment 30-0, the bill advanced to final reading by voice vote.

Senators passed the bill March 24 on a 47-0 vote.

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