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Repeal Time Limit on Welfare!

by Deb Konechne |
April 2, 2001
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2 women speaking in capitol hall
Members of the Welfare Rights Committee blast the five year time limit and demand that the politicians pass legislation for its repeal. (Fight Back! News/Kim DeFranco)

St. Paul, MN - In a nationally unprecedented move, a bill to repeal the time limit on welfare was introduced at the Minnesota State Capitol. Senator Hottinger of Mankato and Representative Neva Walker of Minneapolis are carrying the repeal bill in the Senate and House.

The bill's opening words declare an anti-poverty goal: "The state shall set policies and use its resources to put a time limit on poverty, instead of a time limit on assistance for families living in poverty. The state will eliminate the time limit on welfare and ensure that not one child or family in poverty is without needed assistance..."

The Minnesota Welfare Rights Coalition has been pushing for a repeal of the time limit since the five-year clock started ticking. State estimates project that nearly 5000 families will hit the five-year limit on July 1, 2002. Hundreds more families will lose assistance in the months to follow.

"This is a crime! 5,000 families adds up to as many as 15,000 children that will be thrown off welfare! This is an immediate ticket into the streets for children and their families!" declared Kim DeFranco of the Welfare Rights Committee.

"The five year limit on welfare is a cruel law that is going to force families already deep in poverty, even deeper. It blames the poor for being poor and will push families into devastating homelessness and hunger!" stated Dede Francis of the MN Welfare Rights Coalition. "The repeal bill is so important because it is making history. It's the only bill raising opposition to what the government has done to poor families."

Poor families from around the state have been putting heat on their legislators, and traveling to the State Capitol for hearings and rallies to stop the time limit. "What we see is the time limit is going to affect a lot of people here. Poor people will never get ahead, poor people will be worse off and more oppressed and its not going to end poverty," said Annabelle LeClaire of Low Income People Organizing for Power in Duluth.

"While many in the state of Minnesota wonder whether they will get another tax rebate, thousands of families with low incomes wonder whether they will have any food, shelter or assistance beyond July of 2002. Without a safety net, there is no hope for poor families. We need to eliminate the five-year limit and stop blaming poor people for poverty!" stated Duke Schempp, director of People Escaping Poverty Project in Moorhead.

Hearings on the time limit repeal bill and other poor peoples' bills, including proposals to increase education and to reduce sanctions will be the next step. Poor families are gearing up to testify and carry out rallies and protests at the state capitol in the coming weeks.

"We refuse to let this Government throw even one child into the streets. We are fighting a life and death battle, and we call on all people from all walks of life to fight with us to stop this disaster from happening. Stop the time limit now!" said Linden Gawboy of the Welfare Rights Committee.

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