Gratwick bill that repeals general assistance law passes committee
AUGUSTA — The Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee voted 7-6 on Tuesday to recommend the passage of LD 221, a measure that would repeal a law requiring those released from correctional facilities to apply for general assistance from the town they lived in prior to incarceration.
The bill, “An Act to Amend the Laws Regarding the Municipality of Responsibility for General Assistance Applicants Released from a State Correctional Facility of County Jail Facility,” is sponsored by Sen. Geoff Gratwick, D-Bangor.
The General Assistance program provides last-resort, emergency assistance for housing and other essential needs to families with children at immediate risk of destitution or homelessness. A law passed last year dictated that any individuals released from a state correctional facility applying for GA within within 45 days of their release can receive benefits only from the town they resided in prior to incarceration.
“People released from incarceration need housing, food and other basic necessities and it is essential that this population get back on their feet quickly. While current law was originally favored by general assistance administrators, it has not worked in practice,” said Sen. Gratwick. “This bill makes an important fix and I am glad to see the committee help move it forward.”
Gratwick brought the bill at the request of Rindy Fogler from the City of Bangor Public Health and Community Services and the Maine Welfare Directors’ Board. Fogler spoke in support of the measure at the public hearing.
The bill also received the support of Lewiston Social Service Director Sue Charron and Geoff Herman of the Maine Municipal Association (MMA).
LD 221 will go before the full Legislature in the coming weeks.