1998 Regular Session
To: Public Health and Welfare; Appropriations
By: Representatives Green (72nd), Clark
House Bill 602
AN ACT TO CREATE THE WELFARE REFORM RESEARCH AND ACCOUNTABILITY ACT; TO PROVIDE THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES SHALL COLLECT AND REPORT UPON DATA IN CONNECTION WITH FEDERALLY FUNDED WELFARE PROGRAMS; TO REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES TO COLLECT AND REPORT ON INFORMATION WITH RESPECT TO THE TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE FOR NEEDY FAMILIES (TANF) PROGRAM; TO PROVIDE THAT THE LEGISLATURE AND THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES SHALL SELECT AN INSTITUTION OF HIGHER EDUCATION TO CONDUCT A LONGITUDINAL STUDY OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF TANF AND RELATED WELFARE REFORMS; TO REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES TO COOPERATE IN A STUDY BY AN INDEPENDENT EXPERT OF THE IMPACT UPON MISSISSIPPI RESIDENT NONCITIZENS OF THE DENIAL OR TERMINATION OF ASSISTANCE UNDER THE FOOD STAMPS, TANF, MEDICAID, AND TITLE XX SOCIAL SERVICES PROGRAMS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. This act shall be known as the "Welfare Reform Research and Accountability Act."
SECTION 2. (1) The Mississippi Department of Human Services shall collect and report upon all data in connection with federally funded or assisted welfare programs as federal law may require, including, but not limited to, Section 411 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, and its implementing regulations and any amendments to the act as may from time to time be enacted.
(2) In addition to and on the same schedule as the data collection required by federal law and subsection (1) of this section, the Department of Human Services shall collect and report on further information with respect to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, as follows:
(a) With respect to denials of applications for benefits, all of the same information about the family required under the federal law, plus the specific reason or reasons for denial of the application.
(b) With respect to all terminations of benefits, all of the same information as required under the federal law, plus the specific reason or reasons for the termination.
(3) The Department of Human Services shall collect all of the same data as set forth in subsections (1) and (2), and report it on the same schedule, with respect to all cash assistance benefits provided to families that are not funded from the TANF program federal block grant or are not otherwise required to be included in the data collection and reporting in subsections (1) and (2).
(4) Whether or not reports under this section must be submitted to the federal government, they shall be considered public and they shall be promptly made available to the public at the end of each fiscal year, free of charge upon request. The data underlying the reports shall be made available to academic institutions and public policy organizations involved in the study of welfare issues or programs and reacted to conform with applicable privacy laws. The cost shall be no more than that incurred by the Department of Human Services in copying and mailing the data.
(5) The Legislature and Department of Human Services shall, in addition to the foregoing data collection and reporting activities, seek an institution of higher education to conduct, at no cost to the Department of Human Services, a longitudinal study of the implementation of TANF and related welfare reforms. The study shall select subgroups representing important sectors of the assistance population, including type of area of residence such as city, suburban, small town, rural, English proficiency, level of education, literacy, work experience, number of adults in the home, number of children in the home, teen parenting, and other such subgroups. For each subgroup, the study shall assemble a statistically valid sample of cases entering the TANF program at least six (6) months after its implementation date and before July 1, 1998. The study shall continue until December 31, 2004. The Department of Human Services shall report to the Legislature by January 1 of each year, beginning January 1, 1999, on the interim findings of the study with respect to each subgroup, and by March 1, 2005, the final findings with respect to each subgroup. The reports shall be available to the public upon request. No later than November 1, 1998, the Department of Human Services, in consultation with an advisory panel of specialists in welfare policy, social science, and other relevant fields shall devise the study and identify the factors to be studied. The study shall, at a minimum, include the following features:
(a) Demographic breakdowns including, but not limited to, race, gender, and number of children in the household.
(b) The Department of Human Services shall obtain permission to conduct the study from the subjects of the study and guarantee their privacy according to the privacy laws. To facilitate this permission, the study may be designed to refer to subjects by pseudonyms or codes and shall in any event guarantee anonymity to the subjects with limiting access by outsiders to the data, other than identities, generated by the study.
(c) The subjects of the study shall be followed after denial or termination of assistance, to the extent feasible. The evaluator shall attempt to maintain personal contact with the subjects of the study, and employ such methods as meetings, telephone contacts, written surveys, and computer matches with other data bases to accomplish this purpose. The intent of this feature of the study is to discover the paths people take after leaving welfare and the patterns of return to welfare, including the factors that may influence these paths and patterns.
(d) The study shall examine the influence of various employability, education, and training programs upon employment, earnings, job tenures and cycling between welfare and work.
(e) The study shall examine the influence of various supportive services such as child care, including type and cost, transportation, and payment of initial employment expenses upon employment, earnings, job tenure, and cycling between welfare and work.
(f) The study shall examine the frequency of unplanned occurrences in subjects' lives, such as illness or injury, family members's illness or injury, car breakdown, strikes, natural disasters, evictions, loss of other sources of income, domestic violence, and crime, and their impact upon employment, earnings, job tenure, and cycling between welfare and work.
(g) Including health benefits and what they cost the employee, the study shall examine the wages and other compensation received by subjects who obtain employment, the type and characteristics of jobs, the hours and time of day of work, union status, and the relationships of such factors to earnings, job tenure, and cycling between welfare and work.
(h) The study shall examine the reasons for subjects' job loss, the availability of unemployment insurance, the reasons for a subject's return to welfare, programs or services utilized by subjects in the search for another job, the characteristics of the subjects' next job, and the relationships of these factors to reemployment, earnings, job tenure on the new job, and cycling between welfare and work.
(i) The study shall examine the impact of mandatory work requirements, including the types of work activities to which the subjects were assigned, and the links between the requirements and the activities and sanctions, employment, earnings, job tenure, and cycling between welfare and work.
(j) The study shall identify all sources and amounts of reported household nonwage income and examine the influence of the sources and amounts of nonwage, nonwelfare income on employment, earnings, job tenure, and cycling between welfare and work.
(k) The study shall examine sanctions, including child support enforcement and paternity establishment sanctions, the reasons sanctions are threatened, the number threatened, the number imposed, and the reasons sanctions are not imposed or are ended, such as cooperation achieved or good cause established.
(l) The study shall track the subjects usage of TANF benefits over the course of the lifetime sixty-month limit of TANF eligibility, including patterns of usage, relationships between consecutive usage of large numbers of months and other factors, status of all study subjects with respect to the time limit as of each report, characteristics of subjects exhausting the eligibility limit, types of exceptions granted to the sixty-month limit, and numbers of cases within each type of exception.
(m) The study shall track subjects' participation in other public systems, including the public schools, the child welfare system, the criminal justice system, homeless and food services, and others, and attempt to identify the positive or negative effects in these systems of welfare policies, systems and procedures.
(6) The Department of Human Services shall cooperate in any appropriate study by an independent expert of the impact upon Mississippi resident noncitizens of the denial or termination of assistance under the Food Stamps, TANF, Medicaid, and Title XX social services programs pursuant to the changes enacted in the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. The purposes of such a study must be to examine the immediate and long-term effects on this population and on the state of the denial or termination of these forms of assistance, including the impact on the individuals, the alternate means they fine to obtain support and care, and the impact on state and local spending and human services delivery systems. An appropriate study shall select a statistically valid sample of persons denied or terminated from each type of benefits and attempt to track them until December 31, 2000. Any reports from the study received by the Department of Human services shall be made available to the Legislature upon request, and a final report shall be submitted upon completion. These reports shall be available to the public upon request.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.