Anger Against MN Welfare Reduction Bill Erupts In “Mic Check”
Video by Bill Sorem; Text by Michael McIntee and Bill Sorem
The “occupy wall street” style of amplifying the public’s voice was used to disrupt and express displeasure over Minnesota legislation opponents say is an attack on the poor.
The Minnesota House Health and Human Services Reform Committee met on February 22, 2012, to review and pass three bills restricting welfare.
Representative Daudt’s bill, HF2080, received the most complaints. This bill reduced life-time coverage from a maximum of 60 months to 36 months. It required applicant paid for background checks for drug convictions, reduced exit level from 115% of poverty to 100% of poverty and reduced sanctions from 7 to 3 offenses.
How much money would this save? Legislators don’t know. There was no fiscal note on the savings projected.
Attacking children and scapegoating the poor
Opponents argued that this bill attacks primarily children and and makes the poor scapegoats. The expenses represent .5% of the state budget. The speakers objected to the focus of all three bills considered for attacking the poor while doing nothing to increase jobs or other programs to get people out of poverty.
Representative Patti Fritz, DFL, HD 26B, said, “I’m stunned… we should be looking for ways to feed the poor, not take food from the mouths of their children. I’m disgusted with this bill. It does more harm than I could ever imagine.”
As the committee moved to vote, protestors “Mic Checked” the room repeating chants of disapproval of the bill. The bill was passed with a voice vote as the protests continued.