Bill Would Require Community Service for Welfare Recipients

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For volunteers at the City Rescue Mission of Lansing it's a nightly ritual as they willingly give their time to help those in need in their community.

But under a new a bill, if an individual is accepting some kind of public assistance from the state--like food stamps--they'd be required to volunteer.

"The whole intention is to make certain that folks have some skin in the game," said Sen. Joe Hune, R-Hamburg, who sponsored the bill.

"I see nothing wrong with folks giving back to community who has been giving to them."

Hune said the bill is about much more than just requiring volunteerism.

"We are literally giving folks a leg up, giving them some on the job training, and giving them some additional skills," he said.

But opponents argue it won't actually be helping anyone.

"We're piling on people who are less fortunate and saying you can't make ends meet so we're going to make life harder for you," said Rep. Andy Schor, D-Lansing.

Schor said he doesn't plan on supporting the bill when it comes up for consideration in the House.

"I think it's unreasonable and if we're going to require that for people who are getting welfare then we should require it for CEO's who are getting state dollars and legislators who are getting paid by the state," he said.

"If the argument is they take money from the state well then everyone who takes money from the state should be required to do community service."

But Hune contends the bill does offer exceptions for individuals going through the P.A.T.H (Partnership, Accountability, Training, Hope) program if they can show they have steady employment or are getting the proper skills training to land a job.

The Michigan Department of Human Services already requires some welfare recipients to volunteer.

The bill now goes onto the House for consideration.

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