ATLANTA -- Anyone getting welfare would have to “engage in personal growth activities” if legislation introduced by a freshman senator becomes law.
Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, introduced Senate Bill 312 along with Sens. Buddy Carter of Pooler and John Albers of Roswell and Senate President Pro Tempore Tommie Williams of Lyons. All are Republicans.
The requirement would apply to anyone getting food stamps or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, both federally funded programs for the poor administered by the state.
Under the bill, qualifying activities include working toward a diploma or technical education, learning to read or “attending self-development classes.”
“We’re trying to equip them to obtain better-paying jobs,” Ligon said.
He is also lobbying to use unclaimed prize money from the Georgia Lottery to fund additional training.
The disabled and anyone who already works 40 hours a week would be exempt. And the commissioner of human services could exempt anyone else if the requirements would be “oppressive,” according to the bill.
Advocates for the poor said Thursday they’re concerned.
“The assumption is they’re not skilled,” said Rep. Virgil Fludd, D-Tyrone, chairman of the Georgia Working Families Legislative Caucus. “To me, we ought to be focusing on the real problem: creating new jobs.”
Sen. Nan Orrock, D-Atlanta, co-chair of the caucus, said federal guidelines for both programs may prohibit states from adding requirements on the beneficiaries.
The Senate Health and Human Services Committee will consider the bill.