Legislative Wrap Up: Historic Changes for Striving Families

Here is a list of all the affirmative and positive MFIP policy changes that passed last week.  Your Prosperity for All support and advocacy paid off in big ways!

EDUCATION.  The MFIP workforce education changes will take effect July 1, 2014:  Unlimited participation will be allowed in adult basic education, GED coursework, ESL, and post-secondary education/training (including 4-year programs).  Several statutory barriers to participation have been removed, for example, a requirement to provide proof that education level is below a ninth grade level to participate in ABE.  MFIP participants must be informed of the right to participate in education and training.  New graduates will be allowed 12 weeks of job search rather than six.

ASSETS. The new asset limit for MFIP and GA will be $10,000 (an increase from $2K/$5K) but will not be implemented until June 1, 2016.  Excluded from the $10,000 total will be one car per 16-year-old driver in the household.  Any additional vehicles will count in the $10,000 limit and the county will use the trade-in value for those vehicles.

SIMPLIFICATION. A major simplification and streamlining overhaul is coming to MFIP/GA paperwork. Changes will be implemented on February 1, 2015 and October 1, 2015. The changes include streamlined disregards for GA/MFIP (first $65), simplified verification and recertification procedures, simplified “change reporting,” self-employment income changes, repeal of the shared-household standard, and asset limit reporting changes.

CAP & ALLOWANCE. The family cap repeal will be implemented January 1, 2015.  The Housing Allowance goes into effect on July 1, 2015.

TANF TASKFORCE. The Legislature has created a TANF taskforce that will include legislators, advocates, counties, and public health representatives.  The taskforce will be charged with reviewing past expenditures from the TANF fund.  The group will make recommendations on whether any current TANF expenditures should be replaced with general fund revenue.  This group will meet starting July 31, 2014.

SKYPE. Eligibility interviews can now be conducted via “internet telepresence.”  For recertification, a person who has been in MFIP for 12 months will have the option of a face-to-face, internet, or telephone interview.

CARS. Until the broad asset limit changes occur in 2016 (see ASSET LIMITS above), counties will now use “trade in value” to determine car valuations rather than “loan value.”  This is important because some potential enrollees owe more on their vehicles than they are worth.

TECHNICAL. MFIP underpayments will now be limited to 12 months prior to the month of discovery (aligned with “overpayments”)

JOB SEARCH. All MFIP participants will be allowed 12 weeks of job search at the onset of enrollment rather than six weeks (similar to the new graduate provision in the MFIP Workforce Education changes)

The 2014 legislative changes are a huge step forward for striving families. Let’s keep up the momentum and work toward even greater changes in 2015 and beyond!  Thank you.