OLYMPIA – The Legislature approved new limits to a major welfare program for those unable to work because of physical or mental health problems, and changed its name from General Assistance-Unemployable to the Disability Lifeline.
Under the new rules that passed both houses Monday, those unable to work will be limited to 24 months of benefits over a five-year period between 2008 and 2013. Those who are in the program because of a drug or alcohol addiction can only receive benefits if they enroll and stay in treatment; those who are homeless and need chemical dependency or mental health treatment will receive vouchers instead of cash, and will only qualify if they stay in treatment.
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Republicans like Sen. Joe Zarelli of Ridgefield, criticized the changes
as temporary and another example of the state “kicking the can down the
But Sen. Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, said reforms never seem to be good enough or large enough for the critics, and but being in government is not like being the head of a large corporation who can dictate terms to employees “The process of reform means working with people. It does mean taking half a loaf sometimes,” she said.
HB 2782 bill passed 28-16 in the Senate and 57-40 in the House; it now goes to Gov. Chris Gregoire.
Voting yes in the Senate from the Spokane-area delegation was Brown; voting no was Chris Marr, D, and Mark Schoesler, R.
Voting yes in the House from the Spokane area were Timm Ormsby and Alex Wood, both D; voting no were Larry Crouse, Susan Fagan, Joel Kertz, Kevin Parker, Joe Schmick, Matt Shea and Shelly Short, all R, and John Driscoll, D.
To learn more about the bill, or to see the full vote counts, click here.