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Gazelka welfare reform legislation advances in Senate

Legislation authored by Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Brainerd, to alter residency requirements for certain medical assistance programs passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee recently. It was included in the Health and Human Services Fiscal Year 2012-13 omnibus budget bill discussions that were conducted Wednesday.

The bill, Senate File 150, increases the time required to establish residency in Minnesota from 30 to 60 days for purposes of determining eligibility for the Minnesota Family Investment and General Assistance programs.  

“This is about preventing people from moving to our rural communities from out of state simply to get our welfare benefits,” Gazelka said in a news release. “Changing residency requirements from 30 to 60 days is a modest, reasonable adjustment. We initially looked for a longer waiting period but in the past the Supreme Court has ruled several attempts at longer than 60 days to be unconstitutional.”

The legislation could be implemented as early as September 2011. After initial programming costs, projected savings associated with the modifications are: GA: $171,000 in FY 2012, $228,000 per year ongoing; MFIP: $435,000 in FY 2012, $575,000 per year ongoing.

The legislation contains special exemptions to the 60-day residency requirement that involves applicants who once lived in Minnesota and returned after serving in the armed forces, attending school in another state or returning to the residence of a caregiver.