Several developments in the world of welfare reform surfaced Thursday (3-15). On a national level, Republican governors turned the former bipartisan governorsí welfare overhaul into partisan issue by announcing their work was finished. Democrats were left out of the statement and said that many problems have still not been resolved. While Democrats criticized the premature announcement, House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R- Ga.) praised it and announced that he plans to present a bill to President Clinton by April or May. The bill will be introduced in the House on March 25.
California Assembly Republicans approved a bill to cut funds to elderly, blind, and disabled welfare recipients by $1 billion. Sought by Gov. Pete Wilson, the bill would repeal a law that mandates an increase in welfare benefits each year in step with inflation. The bill has been criticized by Democrats as "wicked" and "anti-woman, anti-children, anti-aged and anti-disabled."
In Wisconsin, Gov. Tommy Thompson plans to sign a bill to put welfare mothers to work and would require people to work in jobs paying less than minimum wage, an effort some say amounts to "slave labor." The bill, called first of its kind, will replace Aid to Families with Dependent Children starting July 1997. It includes programs such as Learnfare, which reduces benefits for families when children miss school, and Bridefare which encourages teen mothers to marry.
Media Resources: The Nando Net and The Associated Press - March 14, 1996; USA Today - March 14, 1996; The San Francisco Chronicle - March 15, 1996
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .