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SENATE DOCKET, NO.                 FILED ON: 6/20/2013

SENATE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 1806

Senate, June 20, 2013 -- Text of the Senate Bill to foster economic independence (Senate, No. 1806) being the text of (Senate, No. 1805, printed as amended).


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
 

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In the Year Two Thousand Thirteen

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An Act to foster economic independence.
 

              Whereas, The deferred operation of this act would tend to defeat its purpose, which is to provide forthwith for improvements to the department of transitional assistance in the commonwealth, therefore, it is hereby declared to be an emergency law, necessary for the immediate preservation of the public convenience.
 

              Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
 

              SECTION 1. To provide for improvements to the department of transitional assistance in the commonwealth in fiscal year 2013, the sums set forth in sections 2 and 2A are hereby appropriated from the General Fund for the several purposes and subject to the conditions specified in this act and subject to laws regulating the disbursement of public funds; provided, however, that notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, appropriations made herein shall not revert and shall be available for expenditure until June 30, 2014.  The sums appropriated in this act shall be in addition to any amounts previously appropriated and made available for these purposes. 

              SECTION 2.

              OFFICE OF CHILDREN, YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES.

              Department of Transitional Assistance.

              3000-4050              …………………………………….…….$8,000,000

              4400-1000              …………………………………….…….$360,000

              4400-1100              …………………………………….…….$2,910,000

              4401-1000              …………………………………….…….$300,000

              4403-2119              …………………………………….…….$500,000

              SECTION 2A.

              4400-1979              For the department of transitional assistance; provided, that the department shall enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Commonwealth Corporation to make available not less than $5,000,000 from this item for the full employment  program under subsection (l) of section 110 of chapter 5 of the acts of 1995, as amended by this act……………………………………………………………………………..$5,000,000.

              4400-1980 For the department of transitional assistance; provided, that the department may expend not more than $6,000,000 from performance bonuses paid by the United States Department of Agriculture, which were received for exceeding program requirements in the supplemental nutrition assistance program administered by the department, for the operation of employment and training services provided by the Commonwealth Corporation under the full employment program under subsection (l) of section 110 of chapter 5 of the acts of 1995, as amended by this act; provided further, that not less than 10 per cent of funds spent for the employment and training services provided under the full employment program shall be reserved for external evaluation of that portion of the full employment program; provided further that the evaluator selected shall be consulted in program design in order to ensure that program effectiveness can be accurately assessed; provided further, that the evaluator shall be selected through a competitive process and that the selected evaluator shall demonstrate: (i) prior experience in evaluating the impact of social programs on low-income urban youth and communities using either random assignment of treatment or regression discontinuity methods; (ii) prior experience in field evaluation; and (iii) prior experience using quantitative analysis relevant for program evaluation; provided further, that when selecting an independent evaluator, the department shall consider: (A) a sample of previous similar work; (B) the ability to perform requested services; and (C) a proposed evaluation budget; provided further, that the department shall report to the house and senate committees on ways and means and the joint committee on children, families and persons with disabilities on the employment and training services provided by the full employment program; and provided further, that notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, for the purpose of accommodating timing discrepancies between the receipt of retained revenues and related expenditures, the department may incur expenses and the comptroller may certify for payment amounts not to exceed the lower of this authorization or the most recent revenue estimate as reported in the state accounting system…………….$6,000,000

              SECTION 3. Paragraph (B) of section 2 of chapter 18 of the General Laws, as amended by section 1 of chapter 161 of the acts of 2012, is hereby further amended by adding the following 6 clauses:-

              (k) on a biannual basis, not later than January 1 and July 1, file a report detailing the number of exemptions and extensions granted to recipients of cash assistance under transitional aid to families with dependent children and the reasons for granting such exemptions and extensions. The report shall be filed with the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate who shall forward the report to the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on children, families and persons with disabilities and the house and senate committees on ways and means;

              (l) annually, not later than April 1, file a report which shall include, but not be limited to, information regarding caseloads, including how long recipients have been receiving cash assistance under transitional aid to families with dependent children and how much recipients have received. The report shall not contain any recipient’s personal identifying information. The report shall be filed with the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate who shall forward the report to the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on children, families and persons with disabilities and the house and senate committees on ways and means;

              (m) annually, not later than September 1, file a report detailing the reasons why recipients of cash assistance under transitional aid to families with dependent children are applying for additional benefits beyond their initial 24 month period; provided, that this shall include, but not be limited to, an analysis of how the recipient failed to meet the recipient’s economic independence goals, as required by section 15 of chapter 118. The report shall be filed with the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate who shall forward the report to the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on children, families and persons with disabilities and the house and senate committees on ways and means;

              (n) on a quarterly basis, file a report detailing the number of cases referred to the department’s program integrity division and the results of each investigation. The reports shall be filed with the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate who shall forward the reports to the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on children, families and persons with disabilities and the house and senate committees on ways and means;

              (o) annually, not later than December 1, file a report detailing the use of economic independence accounts, established under section 16 of chapter 118, that have been opened by recipients of cash assistance under transitional aid to families with dependent children; provided, that this shall include, but not be limited to the number of accounts opened and the average balances in the accounts. The report shall be filed with the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate who shall forward the report to the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on children, families and persons with disabilities and the house and senate committees on ways and means; and

              (p) annually, not later than March 1, file a report detailing the number of recipients receiving cash assistance under transitional aid to families with dependent children who are present in the United States under 1 of the eligible noncitizen statuses as described in 106 CMR 203.675 (A). The report shall be filed with the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate who shall forward the report to the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on children, families and persons with disabilities and the house and senate committees on ways and means.

              SECTION 3A.  Said section 2 of said chapter 18 is hereby further amended by inserting after the word “department”, in line 125, as appearing in the 2010 Official Edition, the following words:- ; and

              (g) the recording and tracking of blank electronic benefit transfer cards that ensures the integrity of the cards and establishes a clear chain of custody and best practices in the shipment and custody of those cards; and

              (h) the termination of benefits to any recipient who has failed to notify the department of a change of address and who the department has attempted to contact by certified mail, but whose mail communication has been returned to the department as undeliverable; provided, however, that the department, after receiving notice that the mail communication has been returned as undeliverable or returned with a Massachusetts forwarding address, shall use all available means to determine the address of the recipient and, in the event that it cannot be determined, subject the recipient’s case to further review as to continued eligibility.

              SECTION 4. Section 5 of said chapter 18, as so appearing, is hereby amended by adding the following paragraph:-

              The commissioner shall establish specialist positions within the department. The specialists shall focus on providing targeted employment and training assistance to recipients that the department determines have a high risk of long term dependence on state benefits and require specialized assistance to achieve economic independence. These recipients shall include teen parents and may include other recipients defined by the department. Each office location shall have specialists. Specialists shall provide focused intervention and assistance to recipients and shall have a caseload of not more than 60 recipients. The commissioner shall: track the progress made by recipients who are receiving targeted assistance under this section in reaching economic independence and transitioning off transitional aid to families with dependent children; track each specialist’s success, as determined by the department, in assisting recipients; and report the results to the house and senate committees on ways and means and the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on children, families and persons with disabilities not later than December 31 of each year.

              SECTION 4A.  Subsection (b) of section 5I of said chapter 18, as appearing in section 2 of chapter 161 of the acts of 2012, is hereby amended by inserting after the word “jewelry” the following words:-  ; televisions, stereos, video games or consoles at rent-to-own stores.

              SECTION 4B.  Said chapter 18 is hereby further amended by striking out section 5J, as so appearing, and inserting in place thereof the following section:-

              Section 5J.  (a) The department shall maintain policies and practices as necessary to prevent cash assistance provided under this chapter from being used in electronic benefit transfer transactions at: liquor stores; casinos, gambling casinos or gaming establishments licensed under chapter 23K; retail establishments which provide adult-oriented entertainment in which performers disrobe or perform in an unclothed state for entertainment as defined in Section 408(a) of the Social Security Act, as amended; adult bookstores or adult paraphernalia stores as defined in section 9A of chapter 40A; firearms dealers licensed under section 122 of chapter 140 and ammunitions dealers licensed under section 122B of said chapter 140; tattoo parlors; manicure shops or aesthetic shops registered under chapter 112; jewelry stores; or on cruise ships. Such establishments shall not accept electronic benefit transfer cards. A store owner who knowingly allows a prohibited electronic benefit transfer transaction in violation of this section or subsection (b) of section 5I shall be punished by a fine of not more than $500 for a first offense, by a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $2,500 for a second offense and by a fine of not less than $2,500 for a third or subsequent offense.

              (b) A store owner who knowingly violates this section and who also possesses a license to sell alcoholic beverages under section 12 of chapter 138 shall be referred to the appropriate licensing authority for possible disciplinary action under section 64 of said chapter 138.  A store owner possessing a license under said section 12 of said chapter 138 who knowingly violates this section a second or subsequent time shall have its license suspended for not less than 30 days and shall be referred to the appropriate licensing authority for possible further disciplinary action under said section 64 of said chapter 138.

              (c) A store owner who knowingly violates this section and who also possesses a license to sell lottery tickets under sections 26 and 27 of chapter 10 shall be referred to the director of the state lottery commission for possible disciplinary action. A store owner possessing a license under said section 26 or 27 of said chapter 10  who knowingly violates this section a second or subsequent time shall have its license suspended for not less than 30 days and shall be referred to the director of the state lottery commission for possible further disciplinary action.

              SECTION 4C. Section 5L of said chapter 18, inserted by section 3 of said chapter 161, is hereby amended by adding the following subsection:-

              (f) An individual who traffics food stamp benefits, as described in subsection (b) and on 2 prior occasions has been convicted of trafficking food stamp benefits under said subsection (b) or conspiracy to traffic food stamp benefits shall be punished by imprisonment in a state prison for not more than 10 years or by a fine of not more than $25,000 or both suchfine and imprisonment.

              SECTION 5. Said chapter 18 is hereby further amended by inserting after section 5N the following 2 sections:-

              Section 5O. (a) The department shall include on the front of newly-issued and reissued electronic benefit transfer cards a photograph of the cardholder if the cardholder is 18 years of age or older. The department shall promulgate regulations to ensure that all members of the household are able to use the electronic benefit transfer card as required by 7 U.S.C.A. § 2016(h)(9) and to ensure that authorized users are able to use the electronic benefit transfer card.

              The department shall promulgate regulations to allow for exemptions from the photo identification requirement for vulnerable populations which may include, but shall not be limited to, the elderly, blind, disabled and victims of domestic violence, as determined by the department.

              In developing regulations for authorized users, the department shall consult with businesses or vendor associations whose members accept electronic benefit transfer cards as a form of payment including, but not limited to, the Massachusetts Food Association, the New England Convenience Store Association and the Retailers Association of Massachusetts.A store owner or employee shall check that the photograph on an electronic benefit transfer card matches the identity of the person making a purchase or follow the procedures for authenticating authorized users, as determined by the department.  A store owner shall be fined for each instance in which the store owner or an employee knowingly fails to check that the photograph on an electronic benefit transfer card matches the person making the purchase or that the purchaser is an authorized user of the electronic benefit transfer card and thereby permits an individual who is not authorized to use the card to purchase goods. The store owner shall be punished by a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $500 for a first offense, not less than $1000 nor more than $2,500 for a second offense and not less than $5,000 for a third and subsequent offense.

              Upon a fourth offense within the same calendar year, the department may initiate a review of the establishment’s authorization to accept electronic bank transfer cards, and may, consistent with the severity of the offenses recorded and to the extent permitted by state and federal law, temporarily or permanently revoke the establishment’s authorization. 

              (b) The department shall include the fraud hotline number and department website on all newly issued electronic benefit transfer cards.

              Section 5P.  The department shall place any grantee that uses direct cash assistance issued by the commonwealth for purchases in states other than the commonwealth, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, and Vermont in the high-risk client group under section 37.  The purchase shall cause the department to issue a special case review of the grantee to ensure that the grantee is fully compliant with the income, asset, identity and residency requirements for the benefits and all other rules and regulations of the department.

              SECTION 5A. Section 10 of said chapter 18, as appearing in the 2010 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following paragraph:-

              Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, 60 days before promulgating or amending any regulation that would alter eligibility for, or the level of benefits provided through the department, other than that which would benefit recipients, the department shall file with the house and senate committees on ways and means, the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on children, families and persons with disabilities and the clerks of the house of representatives and senate a report describing the changes and setting forth justification for any changes.

              SECTION 6. The first paragraph of section 22 of said chapter 18, as so appearing, is hereby amended by adding the following sentence:- Self-declarations by applicants or recipients of transitional aid to families with dependent children shall be signed under the penalties of perjury and, if possible, shall not be accepted as the sole verification of categorical and financial eligibility during eligibility evaluations and reviews.

              SECTION 7. The second paragraph of said section 22 of said chapter 18, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out the first sentence and inserting in place thereof the following sentence:- The department shall determine which verification requirements can be reasonably met by third party affidavits and shall provide notification to recipients and applicants of the circumstances under which third party affidavits may be used; provided, however, that all work participation forms shall be verified by a third party who shall sign the work participation form under the penalties of perjury.

              SECTION 8. Said chapter 18 is hereby further amended by adding the following 7 sections:-

              Section 31. The department, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Corporation, shall develop a job diversion program for applicants for cash assistance under transitional aid to families with dependent children to identify applicants who have the necessary job skills and experience and match those applicants with appropriate full-time employment before receiving benefits. The job diversion program shall be mandatory for all identified applicants over the age of 18 who are not attending a secondary school full time or participating in an education or training activity, as defined in 106 CMR 203.400(A)(2)(i); provided however, that the program shall not be mandatory for an applicant who is exempt from the work requirements under 106 CMR 203.400(A)(1)(a) to (c), inclusive; and provided further, that the program shall not be mandatory for an applicant who is participating in a substance abuse treatment program while in a substance abuse shelter or other inpatient program.

              The program shall identify able-bodied applicants who are capable of working and attempt to match them with jobs prior to receiving benefits. For those identified applicants who are not connected with full-time employment prior to receiving cash assistance, the department shall provide a written finding as to why the job diversion program was not successful and the findings shall be part of the applicant’s case file. An applicant who is otherwise eligible for assistance shall not be denied temporary benefits while awaiting job diversion placements.

              Section 32. The department of transitional assistance shall require applicants or recipients of cash assistance to provide their social security number within 3 months of being assigned a placeholder social security number; provided, however, that this shall not apply to recipients who are present in the United States under 1 of the eligible noncitizen statuses as described in 106 CMR 203.675(A) or 106 CMR 320.620(A).  Failure to provide a valid social security number within 3 months shall result in the suspension of benefits until a valid social security number is provided and verified by the department. The department of transitional assistance shall promulgate regulations in accordance with this section.

              Section 33. The department of transitional assistance shall require all training and employment service programs contracted through the department to track the outcomes of individuals served by the program for at least 1 year after transitioning into employment. The department shall determine the number of individuals that each employment service program is required to track.

              Section 34. The department of transitional assistance shall ensure that when recipients of cash assistance call the department during normal business hours they are able to speak with a caseworker.

              Section 35. The department of transitional assistance shall develop a fraud detection program.  The fraud detection program shall analyze the risk of fraud and refer any cases of suspected fraud to the program integrity division and the bureau of special investigations in the office of the state auditor. In analyzing risk of fraud and identifying cases for investigation, the program shall consider: (i) even dollar transactions; (ii) full benefit withdrawal; (iii) usage patterns; and (iv) other relevant data sources.  In order to assist the program in identifying and investigating likely cases of fraud, the department shall develop and make available reports identifying even dollar transactions by cardholder, instances of full benefit withdrawal and other data reports, as necessary.

              Section 36. The department of transitional assistance shall allow applicants or recipients who are employed a monthly $150 work-related expense deduction from gross wages in determining eligibility and in determining the amount of the cash assistance grant. The department shall promulgate regulations in accordance with this section.

              Section 37. Subject to appropriation, the department shall implement a fraud risk assessment system that shall define risk and prioritize client groups based upon their risk assessment; provided, however, that no client group, applicant or recipient shall be assessed as high risk or low risk based solely or primarily on their race, gender, ethnicity, religion, nationality or disability status. Through the system, the department shall identify areas where increased scrutiny is warranted for high-risk client groups and shall identify ways to streamline procedures for low-risk client groups. The department shall use the most cost effective software to develop its fraud risk assessment system.

              SECTION 8A. Subsection (b) of section 21 of chapter 62C of the General Laws, as most recently amended by section 46 of chapter 224 of the acts of 2012, is hereby further amended by adding the following clause:-

              (27) the disclosure of tax return information for individuals or households to an agency of the commonwealth, if the agency certifies that the information is relevant to determine eligibility of those individuals or households for benefits awarded by the agency.

              SECTION 9. Chapter 118 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following 6 sections:-

              Section 12. A temporary absence from the commonwealth which exceeds 30 calendar days shall create a rebuttable presumption that Massachusetts residency has been abandoned by a recipient of cash assistance under transitional aid to families with dependent children and the recipient is no longer eligible for assistance. The department of transitional assistance shall promulgate regulations in accordance with this section.

              Section 13. (a) The department shall require all adult applicants who are not exempt from the work requirement to conduct an initial job search prior to receiving cash assistance unless the applicant has good cause for not participating as determined by the department which may include disability.  The department shall inform all applicants required to conduct an initial job search of available local job placement service providers. Applicants shall provide evidence of this search by returning to the department a list of the potential employers contacted recently, the date of contact and the name and telephone number of the person with whom the applicant spoke, to the extent feasible. All initial job search documentation shall be signed by the applicant under the penalties of perjury. The number of potential employers to be contacted by the applicant shall be determined by the department. An applicant shall provide the information before the applicant’s case approval. An applicant who fails to provide this information within 30 days of filing the application shall have the application denied. The department shall promulgate regulations in accordance with this subsection. The requirements of this subsection shall be deemed satisfied upon submission to the department of proof of job search activities issued by a 1-stop career center that is established under sections 160 to 168A, inclusive, of chapter 149.

              (b) The department shall require adult recipients, who are meeting their work requirement through job search and who did not receive full-time employment under the full employment program, to provide, on a weekly basis, evidence of job searches by returning to the department a list of the employers contacted, the date of contact and the name and telephone number of the person with whom the applicant spoke, to the extent feasible. The requirements of this subsection shall be deemed satisfied upon submission to the department of proof of job search activities issued by a 1-stop career center that is established under sections 160 to 168A, inclusive, of chapter 149. The department of transitional assistance shall terminate the cash assistance for a recipient who fails to provide such accurate information; provided, however, the department shall not terminate the cash assistance provided to the recipient’s dependent children. The department shall promulgate regulations in accordance with this section.

              Section 14. The department shall not calculate a separate 60 month benefit period for an individual who receives aid under transitional aid to families with dependent children if the individual is part of a 2 parent assistance unit. The department shall promulgate regulations in accordance with this section.

              Section 15. The department shall develop economic independence goals for all recipients of cash assistance under transitional aid to families with dependent children to be completed during the recipient’s first 24 month period of receiving benefits. The economic independence goals shall assist a recipient in determining a path through which the recipient will be able to be self-sufficient. Recipients who re-apply for benefits at any time after the first 24 month period shall be required to demonstrate a good faith attempt to meet their goals prior to receiving additional benefits. Recipients who fail to demonstrate a good faith attempt to meet all of their goals shall not receive additional benefits or an extension of benefits; provided, however that this shall not prohibit a recipient from receiving benefits on behalf of a dependent child.

              Section 16. The department shall develop a savings program that allows recipients of cash assistance under transitional aid to families with dependent children to accumulate assets outside of the asset limit. The savings accounts shall be called economic independence accounts. The economic independence accounts shall be used to help recipients save for the first and last month of rent and the security deposit or for costs related to education or training or may be used for any other reason determined by the department to assist recipients as they transition off of benefits. The economic independence accounts shall not be included as a countable asset under 106 CMR 204.120.

              For recipients of cash assistance who elect to participate in the program, the department shall require a designated amount of a recipient’s cash assistance to be held in an escrow account for the recipient until the recipient is no longer eligible or in need of benefits; provided further, that the department shall allow a recipient to deposit additional funds to the account. While a recipient is receiving benefits, funds in the economic independence account shall only be withdrawn for a department approved purpose. If a recipient, who is currently receiving benefits, uses funds from the account for any purpose other than a department approved purpose, then the department shall reduce the recipient’s monthly cash assistance until the cumulative reductions are equal to the amount used for a non-allowable purpose. The department shall promulgate regulations in accordance with this section; provided that the commissioner shall submit any proposed regulations to the joint committee on children, families and persons with disabilities and the house and senate committees on ways and means 30 days before their adoption by the department. 

              Section 17. The department shall require unverified applicants for cash assistance for a dependent under transitional aid to families with dependent children to provide proof of income and assets. For the purposes of this section, unverified applicants shall mean an applicant who has not provided the required information about citizenship or immigration status.

              SECTION 10.  Chapter 121B of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 32F the following section:-

              Section 32G.  A temporary absence from the commonwealth which exceeds 30 calendar days shall create a rebuttable presumption that Massachusetts residency has been abandoned by a recipient of state or municipally-funded or subsidized housing and that the recipient is no longer eligible for such assistance under this chapter. The department shall promulgate regulations in accordance with this section.

              SECTION 11. The definition of “Child of record” in subsection (a) of section 110 of chapter 5 of the acts of 1995 is hereby amended by adding the following words:- ; provided, however, that the commissioner shall develop specific criteria for approving exceptions or waivers to the family cap provision for extraordinary circumstances and shall only grant an exception or waiver when the specific criteria is met.

              SECTION 12. Subsection (b) of said section 110 of said chapter 5, as amended by section 308 of chapter 159 of the acts of 2000, is hereby further amended by striking out the words “provided, however, that the fair market value of any licensed motor vehicle does not exceed an amount determined by the commissioner in consultation with the secretary of the executive office of transportation and construction and the equity value of any licensed motor vehicle does not exceed $5,000; provided, further, that any value in excess of said five thousand dollars shall be attributed toward said family’s countable resources” and inserting in place thereof the following words:- provided, however, that an assistance unit shall be allowed 1 non-luxury vehicle the value of which does not exceed $15,000; provided further, that any value in excess of $15,000 shall be attributed toward the family’s countable resources; and provided further,  that the commissioner, deputy commissioner or an assistant commissioner may grant a full or partial written waiver for a vehicle valued in excess of $15,000  that the commissioner, deputy commissioner or assistant commissioner determines is necessary for a particular employment or family circumstance.

              SECTION 13. Said subsection (b) of said section 110 of said chapter 5, as so amended, is hereby further amended by adding the following paragraph:- The department shall exclude from a filing unit’s countable income any earned income of dependent children of the assistance unit who are working part-time while attending school full time. The department shall promulgate regulations in accordance with this section, including, but not limited to, updating clause (2) of subsection (D) of 106 CMR 204.210.

              SECTION 14. Subsection (e) of said section 110 of said chapter 5 is hereby amended by striking out clauses (1) and (2) and inserting in place thereof the following 2 clauses:-

              (1) recipients who are disabled, as defined by the federal Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.A. § 423 (d) or, in the commissioner's discretion, a recipient who has been determined by the commonwealth’s disability evaluation service to have a disability that substantially reduces the recipient’s ability to support the recipient’s children taking into account the individual’s age, education and work experience; provided that in families with 2 parents, both parents are disabled; provided further, that to the extent permitted by federal law, the word “disabled” shall not include recipients who are dependent on alcohol or drugs or whose disability is based in whole or in part on previous dependency. A recipient who requests an exemption under this clause shall, as a condition of continued eligibility for transitional aid to families with dependent children, apply for supplemental security income (SSI) and, if requested by the department, appeal a denial of SSI benefits. Recipients who do not comply with the department’s request to apply for SSI or appeal a decision shall not be granted a work exemption under this clause.

              (2) recipients who must care for a disabled child or spouse. A recipient who requests an exemption under this clause shall apply for SSI benefits on behalf of their dependent. 

              SECTION 15. Clause (3) of subsection (e) of said section 110 of said chapter 5 is hereby amended by striking out the words “recipients in their third trimester of pregnancy” and inserting in place thereof the following words:- recipients in their thirty-third week or later of pregnancy, recipients in their third trimester of pregnancy who have submitted documentation signed by a primary care provider as defined in section 1 of chapter 111of the General Laws or an obstetrician, gynecologist, nurse-midwife or family practitioner registered and certified under chapter 112 of the General Laws that the recipient has a medical condition that prevents the recipient from working.

              SECTION 15A. The first sentence of the first paragraph of subsection (f) of said section 110 of said chapter 5 is hereby amended by inserting after the word “commissioner”, in line 5, as amended by section 155 of chapter 43 of the acts of 1997, the following words:- ; provided, however, that the extension shall be supported by a written decision by the commissioner, deputy commissioner or assistant commissioner and included in the reporting requirements of clause (k) of paragraph (B) of section 2 of chapter 18.

              SECTION 16. The fourth paragraph of subsection (f) of said section 110 of said chapter 5 is hereby amended by inserting after the word “extended”, in line 2, the following words:- ; provided, however, that an extension of benefits shall not exceed 3 months.

              SECTION 17. The first paragraph of subsection (j) of said section 110 of said chapter 5 is hereby amended by adding the following sentence:- The department shall exempt from the work requirements a recipient who is age 66 or older; provided, however, that a recipient who is age 60 or over, who is the primary caregiver for a child and who was retired prior to applying for benefits shall be exempt from the work requirements; provided further, that the department shall promulgate regulations in accordance with this sentence, including, but not limited to updating 106 CMR 203.100 (A)(1)(h).

              SECTION 17A.  Said subsection (j) of said section 110 of said chapter 5, as amended by section 218 of chapter 149 of the acts of 2004, is hereby amended by inserting after the second paragraph the following paragraph:-

              An individual receiving cash assistance under transitional aid to families with dependent children, who is not exempt from the work requirements as determined through regulations promulgated by the department may meet the work requirements by participating in an education or training activity for up to the required hours per week as determined by the department. The education or training activity shall not exceed 12 months; provided, however, that the department of transitional assistance may extend the duration of the education or training activity eligible towards the work requirement if the department determines, using performance standards established by the department, that the individual is making substantial progress towards completion of a certificate or degree program. The department shall promulgate regulations in accordance with this section.

              SECTION 18. Said section 110 of said chapter 5 is hereby further amended by striking out subsection (l), as amended by section 157 of chapter 43 of the acts of 1997, and inserting in place thereof the following subsection:-

              (l) The Commonwealth Corporation, in collaboration with the department, shall establish a full employment program to match applicants with full-time employment in a manner which promotes self-sufficiency, including the ability to transition off cash assistance. The Commonwealth Corporation shall administer the program through a memorandum of understanding with the department. The full employment program shall be mandatory for all applicants, except those that are exempt from the work requirements under subsection (e) or assigned to a specialized caseworker under section 5 of chapter 18 of the General Laws or under paragraph (3) of subsection (i). Under the full employment program, in lieu of receiving cash assistance under the program of aid to families with dependent children, applicants shall receive full-time employment; provided, however, that an applicant who is otherwise eligible for assistance shall not be denied assistance while awaiting placement in full-time employment. During the first year of employment under the full employment program applicants shall receive a child care voucher. Applicants who the Commonwealth Corporation determines require additional skills or training in order to be eligible for full employment program jobs shall receive cash assistance under transitional aid to families with dependent children, if otherwise eligible, and be referred to an appropriate educational or training program. The Commonwealth Corporation shall monitor the participation of applicants in the educational or training programs to which they are referred and the applicant shall provide documentation to the department of such participation. No cash assistance shall be provided without such documentation.

              In order to implement the full employment program, the Commonwealth Corporation shall work with the business community to identify jobs and to match the skills required for each job with applicants. The Commonwealth Corporation shall work to connect applicants with employment in emerging professions. 

              Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, for the purpose of reducing or eliminating the amount of contributions or payments made by employers and applicants participating in the full employment program toward the cost of qualified medical insurance, employers and applicants who participate in the full employment program shall receive insurance reimbursement under section 9C of chapter 118E of the General Laws. The insurance reimbursement shall be provided to employers participating in the full employment program regardless of whether the employer employs more than 50 employees or meets the other requirements of an “eligible employer” under said section 9C or under the regulations. The insurance reimbursement shall be provided to any recipient employed through the full employment program regardless of whether the recipient is an eligible employee under said section 9C. Reimbursements to employers under this paragraph shall be in accordance with subsection (4) of said section 9C, but shall not be subject to limitation by MassHealth in accordance with paragraph (C) of subsection (2) of said section 9C.  Reimbursements to recipients under this paragraph shall not be subject to paragraph (A) of subsection (2) of said section 9C but shall be in accordance with a fee schedule set forth in regulations promulgated by MassHealth in consultation with the department of transitional assistance. Reimbursements under this section shall be subject to all other applicable requirements of said section 9C.

              In order to ensure appropriate training for those not initially able to participate in the full employment program, the Commonwealth Corporation shall work with the community colleges, vocational schools, one-stop career centers, adult basic education programs, adult college transition programs and other workforce training programs to identify and develop, if necessary, programs and resources, including programs and resources that meet participants’ language and cultural needs, and refer applicants to these programs or resources. In the development of the full employment program the Commonwealth Corporation shall consult with workforce training providers and employers representing emerging and high-demand job sectors.

              SECTION 19. Section 121 of said chapter 5 is hereby amended by striking out, in lines 3, 8 and 25, the word “fourteen” and inserting in place thereof, in each instance, the following figure:- 16.

              SECTION 19A. Said section 121 of said chapter 5 is hereby further amended by adding the following clause:-

              (3) For the purposes of this section, participation in an alternative education program or a general education development preparation and training program shall meet the school attendance requirement.

              SECTION 20. Item 4000-0890 of section 2 of chapter 139 of the acts of 2012 is hereby amended by adding the following words:- : provided further, that $15,000,000 shall be used to provide insurance reimbursement to employers participating in the full employment program created under subsection (l) of section 110 of chapter 5 of the acts of 1995.

              SECTION 21. Item 4400-1000 of said section 2 of said chapter 139 is hereby amended by adding the following words:- ; provided further, that the department shall hire not fewer than 6 investigators in the fraud investigations and data matching unit.

              SECTION 22. Item 4400-1100 of said section 2 of said chapter 139 is hereby amended by adding the following words:- ; provided further, that the department shall hire 50 additional caseworkers; and provided further, that funds shall be expended for the specialists positions required under section 5 of chapter 18 of the General Laws.

              SECTION 23. Item 4401-1000 of said section 2 of said chapter 139 is hereby amended by adding the following words:- provided further, that not less than $200,000 shall be used for an independent consultant to review the effectiveness of the commonwealth’s specific employment and training service programs, which are provided for under this item, in providing a pathway to financial independence; provided further, that this review shall include, but not be limited to, an analysis of the employment outcomes for clients in the commonwealth, an analysis of each program according to a common set of metrics, interviews with staff from the department and programs, interviews with program clients, interviews with employers and recommendations for specific changes and improvements to the employment and training services provided by the commonwealth; and provided further, that a copy of the consultant’s report shall be filed with the clerks of the senate and house of representatives.

              SECTION 24. Notwithstanding any general or special law, subject to appropriation, the integrated eligibility system, or IES, developed by the executive office of health and human services shall allow multiple state agencies and programs to access and share data by creating data hubs and streamlining information processes. Through the integrated eligibility system, the department of housing and community development, housing authorities and state health and human services agencies and programs including, but not limited to, transitional aid to families with dependent children, temporary assistance for needy families and MassHealth shall share and have access to the data.

              SECTION 25.  Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the department of transitional assistance shall develop, implement and maintain a system utilizing electronic and other technology to reduce the use of paper records and documentation and to eliminate the sole reliance on such paper records for its operations.

              The system shall facilitate efficiency and accuracy in the submission and receipt of applications and related documents and the timely verification of the information so contained and to the maximum feasible extent to prevent the loss of the information and ensure its availability on a continuous basis for the functions performed by the department.

              The system shall, to the maximum extent feasible, minimize the time and resources necessary to manage information, reduce the need for the resubmission of documents and verify the receipt of documents or information submitted.  The system shall also facilitate the timely and efficient exchange of information. 

              The system shall be fully operational not later than 24 months following the passage of this act; provided, however, that it may be developed and implemented in stages but the department shall electronically submit quarterly reports to the clerks of the house and the senate on its progress; and provided further, that the reports shall identify any obstacles preventing progress including, but not limited to, resource constraints.  The first report shall be filed by September 1, 2013.

              SECTION 26. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the department of housing and community development shall allow the Worcester Housing authority to operate the authority’s A Better Life program in state-subsidized housing.

              SECTION 27. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, a pregnant teen who meets all other eligibility requirements shall be eligible to live in a teen parent shelter or participate in a teen living program during her entire pregnancy and shall be eligible to receive cash assistance under transitional aid to families with dependent children if she meets the school attendance requirements set forth in 106 CMR 203.610 and the requirements set forth in 106 CMR 203.630.

              SECTION 27A. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, all secretariats, commissioners, departments and agencies required to submit reports under this act shall file their reports by the dates required in this act by electronic means to the chairs of any committees named as recipients and to the clerks of the senate and house of representatives; provided, however, that the house and senate clerks shall develop procedures and requirements for secretariats, commissioners, departments and agencies for the preparation of the reports to facilitate their collection and storage and the reports shall be made available to the public on the general court’s website, omitting any personal information about individuals receiving benefits through the department of transitional assistance.

              SECTION 27B.  Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the department of transitional assistance shall develop protocols for coordinating information with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and the administrative office of the trial court regarding recipients of publicly-funded benefits who are the subject of felony warrants.  The protocols shall be designed to use the department’s records to facilitate proper notice to the individual and the department shall, upon request, provide all relevant information to any such law enforcement or the court to facilitate the timely resolution of the warrant.

              SECTION 27C. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the department of transitional assistance shall not approve an application for new benefits for any person required to register under sections 178C to 178P of chapter 6 and who has failed to register until the individual registers as required by said sections 178C to 178P of said chapter 6; provided, however, that prior to the denial of benefits, the department shall provide the applicant with notice of the applicant’s failure to register under said sections 178C to 178P of said chapter 6 and a reasonable opportunity to be heard.

              SECTION 27D. Subject to appropriation, the department shall require recipients to participate in a free financial education program to assist in the development of economic independence goals under section 15 of chapter 118 of the General Laws; provided, however, that the department shall provide recipients with a list of already existing free or low-cost financial education programs to administer the financial education program. In developing such a list of financial education programs, the department shall collaborate with the office of the state treasurer, the Massachusetts Credit Union League, the Massachusetts Bankers Association, the Midas Collaborative, the Moving from Debt to Assets program and the Massachusetts Financial Education Collaborative.  Any financial education program included on the recommended program list shall include, but not be limited to, providing guidance on: (1) tracking daily spending habits; (2) preparing a monthly budget; (3) identifying ways to decrease spending; (4) identifying ways to increase income; (5) listing and prioritizing financial goals; and (6) recognizing how to create a plan to achieve financial goals. The program shall equip recipients with the knowledge and skills needed to become self-sufficient and to enable recipients to make critical decisions regarding personal finances.

              SECTION 27E.  Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, no person shall be eligible for public housing under any terms and conditions other than those authorized under 42 U.S.C  §§1436a.

              SECTION 28. The department of transitional assistance, if required, shall seek a federal exemption or waiver in order to implement this act.

              SECTION 29. Each section of this act shall be subject to federal approval, if required. Any section that is inconsistent with federal law or regulations shall be void unless the department receives an exemption or waiver from the federal government to implement said section.

              SECTION 30. Electronic benefit cards shall include a photograph of the cardholder under section 5O of chapter 18 of the General Laws by August 1, 2014. The department of transitional assistance shall consider utilizing the photograph databases of the registry of motor vehicles and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority as a cost-saving measure. The department of transitional assistance shall work with the registry of motor vehicles to access and cross-share facial recognition data and resources for the purpose of identifying potential fraud by December 31, 2014. The department shall report any case where there is reason to believe that fraud has been committed to the bureau of special investigations, the district attorney or an appropriate law enforcement entity for such action as they may deem proper.

              SECTION 31. The department of transitional assistance shall promulgate regulations to implement this act.

              SECTION 32. Section 5 shall take effect 6 months after the effective date of this act.

              SECTION 33. Sections 4, 10, 11, 18 of this act, sections 31 and 33 of chapter 18 of the General Laws and sections 13, 15 and 16 of chapter 118 of the General Laws shall take effect 90 days after the effective date of this act.

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