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Welfare Rights Committee protest at opening day of 2016 Minnesota legislative session

By Kim DeFranco |
March 8, 2016
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Members of Welfare Rights Committee march.
Members of Welfare Rights Committee march on opening day of 2016 Minnesota legislative session. Photo credit: Kim Defranco

St. Paul, MN - Members of the Welfare Rights Committee and their supporters rallied March 8 at the opening day of the 2016 Minnesota legislative session. The protest coincided with International Women’s Day.

Angella Khan, a member of the Welfare Rights Committee (WRC), kicked off the rally, stating, “We are here today, to demand the politicians to pass our bills. People are still losing their jobs. People are homeless, living from couch to couch, living in the streets Families have reached their life time limit on welfare. They have absolutely nothing in terms of income. This is wrong!”

Khan led the chant, “What are here for?” As the crowd yelled back, “Pass the GAAIN!”

This session, the Welfare Rights Committee will push their bill to Give Aid to All in Need - the GAIIN bill (SF1426/HF 1533). The bill’s chief authors are Senator Chris Eaton and Representative Susan Allen.

WRC’s Darnella Wade, explained their bill, “The GAAIN bill expands the current state-funded General Assistance program by adding two more categories of who is eligible for GA funds: Families who have hit the five-year limit, and unemployed adults who have no income and who are looking for work.”

As statement from the WRC pointed out, “The current budget forecast shows over $900 million in surplus. We call on the legislature to use this money to help the poorest of the poor in this state. Under current law, many people who have literally no income do not qualify for any cash assistance at all. There is no program for childless people whose unemployment has run out. Families who hit the five-year time limit get nothing. Food Stamps (SNAP) benefits for adults looking for work are limited to three months in a three-year period. People are homeless, cashless and scrounging daily for food. This is unacceptable.”

Sara Martin, a member of Women Against Military Madness, spoke out in support of the GAAIN bill, “It is shameful and unacceptable so many of our lawmakers turn a blind eye to our sisters and brothers; that over half of the federal budget, $610 billion, goes to weapons and war. Because of this gross and immoral misappropriation of our hard earned tax dollars, the war abroad has become the war at home.”

Jess Sundin, of the Anti-War Committee said, “The Welfare Rights Committee has been the strongest voice the state has ever had to say no to the war on the poor. The government needs to take responsibility in helping everyone.” Sundin stated the Anti-War Committee supports the GAAIN legislation.

After the rally, the committee marched throughout the capitol complex chanting, “Hey politicians, we’re at your door! Stop the war on the poor.” They hand-delivered a message printed on over-sized dollar bills demanding passage of the GAAIN bill to every legislator’s office.

Khan ended the rally, stating, “We understand that we have big battle ahead of us. But we are sick seeing our communities suffer, so we will keep up the fight!”

To follow the campaign and to get involved, contact the group at 612-822-8020, on Facebook, at [email protected] or visit welfarerightsmn.com.

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