Fredette doesn't have high hopes for his welfare reform bill

AUGUSTA — A bill by the state’s House Republican leader to require able-bodied Mainers to show they have applied for three jobs before receiving welfare benefits could be killed even before the Legislature reconvenes in January.

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Kevin Bennett/Bangor Daily News

Rep. Ken Fredette, R-Newport

Republicans in the State House have made clear that welfare reform will be their top priority in the truncated legislative session that begins in January, and have positioned themselves to make the issue a key campaign topic in 2014.

But Rep. Ken Fredette, R-Newport, said Friday that he expects Democrats to kill his bill during Wednesday’s meeting of the Legislative Council, a body composed of the top lawmakers in the House and Senate that includes six Democrats and four Republicans.

The council is responsible for deciding which bills will move forward to the full Legislature. The second session is reserved for bills held over from the first session, budgetary bills and “emergency” bills, though the council has wide discretion in determining what is or isn’t pressing enough to pass muster.

“Bills like this provide taxpayers, I believe, with a feeling that we’re being good stewards of their taxpayer dollars,” Fredette said Monday. But, he said, “Democrats have taken a position where they want to expand the welfare state here in Maine. … Speaker [Mark] Eves in particular has made it very clear that he did not support this bill, did not support the concept of it.”

Democrats had signaled their opposition to the bill, which was characterized by Eves, D-North Berwick, as an unnecessary hurdle for Mainers in need. They also noted that the targeted program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, already contains a job-search requirement for beneficiaries.

Fredette was also discouraged after the Office of the Revisor of Statutes, the nonpartisan body charged with screening the hundreds of bills proposed by lawmakers each session, tagged his bill as potentially violating the Legislature’s Joint Rule 217, which prevents the same bill from being introduced twice during one two-year legislative term.

The revisor noted that a bill proposed and defeated last year by Rep. Paulette Beaudoin, D-Biddeford, would have required current TANF recipients to “work with town officials and municipal officers to seek meaningful employment” and either work or volunteer while receiving benefits.

Fredette said his bill and Beaudoin’s were not similar enough to violate the rule, and said he was “confused” by the revisor’s note.

Eves, however, said his opposition to Fredette’s bill was decided “on the merits,” and has little to do with its similarities to Beaudoin’s failed bid at welfare reform. He said the bid to tie a job search to TANF applications is just “election-year politics.”

“The best anti-poverty program is a job, we all know that,” he said. “But if Rep. Fredette were serious, he’d recognize that what he’s proposing will only increase homelessness and make it harder for struggling families.”

If Republicans have made welfare reform their top priority for the upcoming session, Democrats have put equal weight behind a renewed push to expand Medicaid to roughly 70,000 Mainers under a provision of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Under the act, the expansion would be fully funded by the federal government for the first three years and whittled down to 90 percent after that.

Republicans have said the expansion would cost the state millions. The effort was approved by the Legislature last year, but vetoed by Gov. Paul LePage. Fredette noted the irony that his bill had been flagged for a potential violation of Rule 217, while Democrats have said they plan to bring Medicaid expansion before lawmakers again in January.

“That bill got vetoed, it didn’t pass, and it should not come back before the Legislature next year,” he said. “The only way that it will is if the Democrats violate their own rules. That’s very troubling if it happens.”

Eves and Senate President Justin Alfond wouldn’t say whether they believed the second go-round for Medicaid expansion violated legislative rules, but stressed that the Legislative Council was the ultimate authority on what bills would be introduced. The rule does allow a bill to return if two-thirds of the Legislature votes to give it a second life.

Alfond said expansion meets the criteria of “emergency legislation.”

Failure to expand Medicaid “is hurting our state’s economy, hurting our health care outcomes,” he said. “That’s why I feel the health care expansion debate needs to be brought up. Whether we do it or not will be determined on Wednesday.”

As for Fredette’s bill, it may not be dead just yet: Gov. LePage may introduce legislation on his own, which would require the approval of the Legislative Council. Fredette said he is in communication with the governor’s office about potentially bringing his welfare reform bill forward if it is killed by the Legislative Council.

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JOANNE MOORE's picture

Frankly, I wouldn't trust Fredette

Frankly, I wouldn't trust Fredette or anyone from either party, Republican or Democrat, to do anything to help the least of us; the poor, working poor or the middle class. But they will bend over for those who would pay them to legislate against us. This is not just happening in this country. It is worldwide. It is called austerity. In other words, take from the those who can least afford it and give to those who least need it. Robinhood in reverse. Politicians know who butters their bread and it certainly isn't one of modest means.

The real parasitic freeloaders are those who want to avoid any taxes or paying their fair share of the costs incurred in the day to day running of society. They have managed, according to an article I read last April in the Guardian, to hide much of their weath in tax-free havens like the Caymen Islands.

I wonder if Fredette would get worked up about these real parasites who have socked away 32 TRILLION in dollars. Nah.

Gerald Weinand's picture

Keep in mind that many of

Keep in mind that many of those receiving SNAP are already employed.

It's just that they are working at a place like WalMart or Marden's or a convenience store that don't pay a living wage.

Bob White's picture

Question for you

If I'm making $100,000 a year for example but I cant make ends meet for whatever reason am I not making a "livable wage"?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Perhaps those people are paid

Perhaps those people are paid what they are worth. How about finding better paying job? Oh, that is right, you need to bring some skills to the party.

Jason Theriault's picture

That's a load of crap

That's a load of crap because their worth is flexible. But the policies you advocate are specifically aimed at keeping their worth at it's lowest, much like how China manipulates it's currency, you seek to manipulate the labor market by limit the power of employees at EVERY turn.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Still waiting on that

Still waiting on that definition.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

What do you mean "flexible."

What do you mean "flexible."

I pay an employee to accompish a set of tasks for a perdetermined hourly rate. That is it. If they show consitant value, I'll pay more.

What is a living wage Gerald?

What is a living wage Gerald? I hear the cliché all the time about a living wage but people refuse to put a number on the saying.

Anyone, what is a living wage?

The world is the limit. If people are unhappy with their jobs and wages, do something about it! Take classes, better yourself.

JOHN PAINTER's picture

Robert, There's a fair amount


There's a fair amount off data on the concept of living wages in economics, sociology, etc probably not what this forum wants to wade through. On a more digestible level, MIT has done a fair amount of work on this topic to put the question into an easier (if you have computer access) to understand format

MARK GRAVEL's picture

The definition of a living

The definition of a living wage is a function of the number of dependents one has to support. That said, how does having more dependents increase the value of an employee over one who does not have dependents?

The value an employer receives from an employee is invariant to the number of dependents that employee supports; therefore, the concept of a living wage, which varies based on the number of dependents, is not a good measure of a wage.


Take classes to better

Take classes to better yourself? If someone is qualifying for SNAP benefits then where do you propose the extra money comes from to pay for these classes? If they are not making enough money already to cover basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, medical coverage, and the needs of any children just how do you expect them to come up with the money to pay to "better" themselves?

Bob White's picture

Positive Not Negative

Tina if you look at things in a positive view you are more apt to find a solution. There are ways to better yourself some cost money some are free and some are very inexpensive. There are always options. "Don't give excuses give solutions" lead don't follow. People that say they cant, they will-fail that is. Just think if everybody was like you do you think they would have gotten to the moon or flown? (cant cant cant) I do know one thing though till the people take responsibility for themselves nothing will change blaming everyone else for ones problem wont get them to a better place. Lots of people have been in there shoes and they made it so if they can anybody can.


Bob sometimes people need a

Bob sometimes people need a reality check. Sometimes they need someone to play the devil's advocate to prove that their "solutions" are really not feasible. Sometimes they need to hear from someone who actually sees both sides of the story and not just the slanted view. People are throwing out "solutions" that have not been well thought out and have too many ways to not work. Why not throw this stuff out there in a dialogue and work through problems with the "solutions" before trying to implement them?

Bob White's picture

I'm sorry Tina your right

I'm sorry Tina your right there must not be any solutions, the people that were able to get off the system must have used up all the ideas. The people that are on the system are doomed. (at least in your mind). Keep telling them they cant and its not there fault I'm sure that will work for them. Your like Frank I cant I cant I cant. I was and I worked with people that were problem solvers and "cant be done " was not a solution to the problem. The day you stop think these people are victims that's the day they will start to secede. Encouragement breeds success not negativity and excuses!!!!!


Bob you go right ahead and

Bob you go right ahead and believe that the "solutions" will work....we will end up with another Obamacare website scenario. Why not work things out so when it is implements it works from the start?

Bob White's picture

How do you go from what we

How do you go from what we were talking about to Obamacare website? They aren't even the same problem. If your put into a corner Tina don't just lob out a grenade to cause a distraction. Just admit its ok not to look at these people as victims and its ok to encourage and inspire them to better themselves. Tina when I say encourage and inspire these people I understand that there are different levels and everyone's end result will be different but if we tell these people they will fail and we expect and willing to except failure then they surely will fail. There are good people that are down on there luck and they need a hand up not a way of life.


OMG you just don't get

OMG you just don't get point is that some people think Obama care is the solution to the country's health care needs, however, when they rolled out the new website they found so many problems with it that they are trying to fix while the public has to sit on their hands and everyone wants welfare reform and are offering solutions that have not been completely thought out....didn't we learn from our past that we need to think things through completely and factor in as many possible scenarios as we can and make sure there are no "bugs" or "problems" with the solutions before we implement the so-called "solutions".

Bob White's picture

Thank you

Thank you for explaining your comment I understand what you were saying now. I will agree with you as well.

There are plenty of avenues

There are plenty of avenues Tina, aspire being one of them.


I guess you should become

I guess you should become more educated about services provided. If you only qualify for SNAP benefits because you are working but not making enough you do NOT qualify for ASPIRE. ASPIRE is only for those receiving TANF.

There are always solutions

There are always solutions Tina, some people are just to lazy to search for them. Why should they though, with the state of welfare and all.


Or maybe the people have just

Or maybe the people have just not found the solution that fits their particular situation. There is so much misunderstanding out there about what welfare truly is that it is not helping to come up with the solutions. I think people need to educate themselves about what is actually provided and what is not. I think people need to figure out what aspect of a welfare program they want to reform. I think the powers that be should be more willing to work with people who have used the system in a positive way to determine what worked and what didn't, what was needed but not provided, what was provided but not needed. These are the people who could help to solve the problems but they are a resource not tapped into by the people in control. These are the people who used the assistance as it was meant to be...a helping hand up and out of poverty but instead the powers that be only want to listen to people who really have no clue about the programs.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Tina, your arguing with very narrow minded individuals........

You have to remember, there is absolutely no reason for anyone to be poor or needy. If they are working at a job that doesn't pay enough it's their own fault. All they need to do is go out and get a better job. This is no time to squabble over little bitty excuses like, there are no better paying jobs out there. You see from the point of view of people like Mr. Gravel, and especially Mr. White, life is full of possibilities, you just need to have their wisdom and unsurpassed intelligence to make it in today's dog eat dog world.
Have you ever heard of a Monday morning quarterback, or an arm chair quarterback? That describes those two to a tee. They sit back in their easy chair, Gravel with his finger on the "Google" button, and tell the rest of the world exactly what they are doing wrong. I mean Mr. Gravel has three degrees and also some patents in the field. That qualifies him for??? God only knows what, but whatever it is, you can be sure he's an expert at it. Mr White on the other hand I'm not to sure about. I do know he's no prodigy when it comes to spelling and grammar, but he does have a positive attitude. He also has no room in his life for excuses. even legitimate excuses are nothing for him.
Yes, Mr. Gravel, and Mr. White, both belong in Augusta, where their keen intellect, and true perseverance can be put to it's rightful test. I'm sure these two are just what Governor LePage needs to get this State, and maybe even this Country back on track again........

Jim Cyr's picture

Mr. Earley, narrow

minded individuals...???? With 50 million not paying any income tax and almost the same amount on SNAP TANF and etc....we have an entitlement problem. Many have free phones, large screen t.v.'s Xbox's and not to mention with over 42 Billion in entitlement waste yearly, we all have to have some recovery pain. My priority is my family, not free loaders that take from my family's table. My resources are very scarce. Self reliance should be the mantra of the day.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

So let me get this straite.................

We have one hundred million people, not paying income taxes, and receiving SNAP and TANIF, and etc. What exactly is your point? Are you complaining that to many people need assistance, are you complaining that there are to many welfare cheats out there? I don't get your argument. You state that many have big screen TV's and X Boxes, where exactly do you get this information. I haven't seen it personally, and I don't doubt there are cheats out there. You can't bundle everyone into one huge group and decide these people are a burden on your resources. You are either upset with cheaters or are you just accusing everyone of intentionally stealing from your families table? Most people I know who find themselves to be less fortunate, aren't exactly jubilant about the whole thing. You have a thorn in your ass about something, but I'm not sure you even know what it is. It almost sounds like your just fed up with poor people in general. Just keep one thing in mind next time you start getting radical on the poor. Tomorrow that person needing help could very well be you, and don't think for a minute it couldn't happen. It's funny how when you find yourself on the other side of that page, things start looking mighty different from your perspective. Trust me, I've been there....................

Bob White's picture

Frank I don't think your the

Frank I don't think your the person who should be commenting on jobs. Frank a year and half ago I lost my job . A job with benefits good pay the whole 9 yards. I didn't lay down and take it I went out first and found a job (not the best but a job and I was happy to have one) because my family needed to eat and I need to survive. BTW I wasn't prepared to lose my job. Once I had a job I started to look to better myself and I found the job I have now. I didn't get to this point by looking for pity ( like you do so well) No I kept positive and failure wasn't a option. It wasn't a matter of if I would survive I new I was going to. " They sit back in their easy chair" That is what you said well maybe your life would be different if you got your ass out of the easy chair and did something and stopped the excuses. Maybe if I took your advise " They sit back in their easy chair" I could be like you full of excuses complain about my little boat..... Nah No thank you.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Bob, Why are you so irritated by my lifestyle????????

Bob, if I got half as worked up over my lifestyle as you do, I'd be a basket case. Could you please explain again, just what I'm supposed to do? You have called me all sorts of things from lazy, to a welfare cheat. You keep accusing me of being able to work. You keep accusing me of not wanting to work. Do you have any idea what Social Security is paying these days? It's not exactly the same as winning the lottery. I lost a damn near six figure salary for the privileged of sitting home just waiting for my monthly check. I paid in full my own tuition and all related expenses for college so that I could get to where I was. I didn't just go out to find a job, I spent a couple of years, at my own expense, preparing for a new career. I might also add, that I had already left one career after twenty five years, in order to pursue my dream career. I am currently still employed with the same company I was working for when I got sick ten years ago. I am presently listed as being absent on long term disability. I am still invited to company events, and still remain in contact with my former colleagues.
So tell me Bob, why would I go to such extreme lengths to have all this protection in place, in the event of a catastrophic illness? If I'm just going to throw it all away and go take some job I wouldn't even be medically approved for in the first place. Your just going to have to consider the fact that your not always right. I would also appreciate it if you would stop calling me lazy. One more thing, it's not my small boat, it's my crappy little boat, we need to be accurate here...............................

Bob White's picture

Accurate...... Ha Ha

Your a funny person you start with the "oh pity me" then you slide ever so gentle into the "I'm the man of many excuses". A person with no arms is working everyday (which you think is a small issue I might add) I don't think you can work I know you can. If your not going to participate then don't complain.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

When did I ever look for pity?????????????

Why would I need pity? Please, you keep changing the story line. Hey I'm glad the guy with no arms is working, I'm sure he's proud of himself. What the hell does that have to do with me? You know I can work, explain to me how, or better yet why. Your the one complaining. For the life of me, I don't know what else to say, your nuts...................................

Bob White's picture

Have you ever had something

Have you ever had something like the Flu, or some other nasty bug that makes you feel really crappy for a few days, you may stay home from work, but in a couple of days your feeling much better and you go back to work? Well what I have isn't a disability like missing arms, or a prosthetic leg. I have an illness, just like the flu. Only this illness makes me feel crappy all the time, it never goes away. It never will go away. I have to take massive amounts of medications just to make it bearable. Sure I can do a lot of things, just like the guy with no arms. He taught himself a way around his little obstacle. I can do things for short periods of time. That doesn't mean when I'm doing them, I'm not in excruciating pain. You see that's my disability, excruciating pain. I have taught myself to endure the pain, and that allows me to do things.

"I lost a damn near six figure salary for the privileged of sitting home just waiting for my monthly check. I paid in full my own tuition and all related expenses for college so that I could get to where I was. I didn't just go out to find a job, I spent a couple of years, at my own expense, preparing for a new career. I might also add, that I had already left one career after twenty five years, in order to pursue my dream career. I am currently still employed with the same company I was working for when I got sick ten years ago. I am presently listed as being absent on long term disability"

That screams oh pity me!!! Poor me I'm so sick blah blah blah.... If you don't remember those are quotes from your comments if would like more just go back through your responses

FRANK EARLEY's picture

What is you point?????????

What are you trying to accomplish? You complain that I live to luxuriously to be disabled then turn around and say I seek pity. It usually doesn't work both ways.If I am living so comfortably, why would I need pity? I still stand behind my previous opinion of your mental status...................................

Bob White's picture

Frank your losing

First of all it is "your" not "you" (in your header) You must be getting worked up.... Another thing I never said anything about you living luxuriously. I have commented to you on how you don't work and the excuses you use. I have given you many examples of people that are worst off then you and are still productive. So don't complain if your not going to do anything for yourself. The last thing, the last comment you asked me "when do I ask for pity" well I gave you 2 examples of you caring on about how bad Frank has it. As for my mental status, I really don't care what you think I been called a lot worst from a lot better people then a lazy, excuse making person who wont take responsibility for his situation person.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

OK Bob, one last responce...........

How do you know those people you mentioned are worse off than I am. You have no way of knowing. You have no idea what is wrong with me, yet you feel comfortable harassing, insulting and bashing my character. Furthermore how do you know I'm not productive? Your problem is you have these stereotypes in your head, you just can't work around. You see me as some guy just sitting around enjoying my disability. My only problem in life right now is I can't decide who's more ignorant, you or Mark Gravel. Between the two of you, you've turned me into some kind of monster, That image of me, you two have will not change, it grows day by day. You get angrier and angrier. ( I can tell by your typing ). Gravel's all set to take a compatriot of his and head to Washington DC. just to decrease my disability benefits.
This is not normal behavior. You two show signs of Paranoia, your also acting like a couple of Jack Asses, but hell Gravel's always been that way, well for that matter, so have you.
So please stop harassing me, and let me enjoy my hibernation out here in no-mans land, I have most everything I need to get me thru till spring, until then I'll just be dreaming about fishing from my crappy little boat next spring. ........................................

Tina, success and

Tina, success and independence from the system is like climbing a ladder, one rung at a time. If people wait for the perfect solution, success and independence will never come. I am also wondering Tina, what is a living wage in your book?


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