To the Members of the Kentucky General Assembly:
We, the undersigned, voice our strong opposition to House Bill 3.
HB 3 would erect costly and complex barriers that take away vital food, health care and financial assistance from children and families in Kentucky. Scores of studies have found that participation in these programs improves success for children in school and has lasting benefits into adulthood – and that barriers to participation do not increase economic well-being. By removing these supports from Kentuckians, HB 3 would hold back our commonwealth.
The bill includes provisions of questionable legality, and would also be extremely expensive for our state — adding many layers of administrative oversight and complicated reporting requirements that will cause Kentuckians to lose assistance.
Specifically, HB 3 would:
- Cut off and reduce assistance for thousands of very poor Kentuckians. Restrictions on the use of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) dollars would cut off or reduce already extremely modest and temporary assistance that overwhelmingly goes to children — potentially harming 28,000 kids.
- Require ineffective “workfare” for parents receiving food assistance. HB 3 would force parents of children over the age of five into “workfare” in order to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Workfare, essentially unpaid internships, has not been shown to improve job opportunities, and the bill would require a costly system to track thousands of parents and enroll nonprofits as workfare sites.
- Codify major barriers to Medicaid. Currently under review by a federal judge, HB 3 would codify work-reporting requirements for Medicaid recipients. A similar requirement implemented by Arkansas last year resulted in 18,000 residents losing health care, even though many were already working.
- Require expensive new surveillance with SNAP and TANF photo ID. HB 3 would require expensive new photo IDs and would trigger a federal law mandating grocery stores require a photo ID when any customer uses a credit card. It will mandate that cashiers engage in surveillance on who uses SNAP benefits.
- Make public benefits contingent upon costly, wasteful drug testing. HB 3 contains a requirement that any person with a criminal history involving substance use pay for a drug test prior to becoming eligible for SNAP, TANF or Medicaid. Those costs will present a high hurdle for already cash-strapped people, and because the state will reimburse the applicant after a negative test, the costs to the state would be great. Research shows people receiving safety net assistance are not more likely to use drugs.
HB 3 will leave many thousands of Kentucky children and families hungry, without health care, and lacking supports that just barely allow them to scrape by. This harmful, costly, ineffective and legally dubious proposal must be rejected by the Kentucky General Assembly.
ACLU of Kentucky
Advocacy Action Network
American Heart Association
Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center
The Arc of Kentucky
Beattyville Housing and Development Corporation, Inc.
Catholic Conference of Kentucky
Center for Accessible Living
Coalition for the Homeless
Community Farm Alliance
Family Health Centers, Inc.
Gateway Homeless Coalition, Incorporated
Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky
The Indiana-Kentucky Conference of the United Church of Christ
Jefferson County Teachers Association
Jewish Community Relations Council of Louisville
Kentuckians for The Commonwealth
Kentucky Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
Kentucky Center for Economic Policy
Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Kentucky Council of Churches
Kentucky Equal Justice Center
Kentucky Nurses Association
Kentucky Psychological Association
Kentucky State AFL-CIO
Kentucky Voices for Health
Louisville Urban League
Louisville Jewish Community Center
Mental Health of America of Kentucky
National Council of Jewish Women, Louisville Section
National Association of Social Workers – KY Chapter
Park Duvalle Community Health Center, INC.
People Advocating Recovery
The People’s Campaign Community Network
Shelter of Hope, Inc.
Union Church, Berea
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 227
The Women’s Network
This letter was published in the Northern Kentucky Tribune on March 2, 2019.