Senate Bill No. 140
(By Senators Tomblin, Mr. President and Boley,
By Request of the Executive)
[Originating in the Committee on Health and Human Resources;
reported February 28, 1996.]
A BILL to amend chapter nine of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding
thereto a new article, designated article nine, relating to
the West Virginia works program for welfare assistance to at-
risk families; food stamp recipients and emergency assistance
recipients; short title; legislative findings; program goals;
definitions; authorization for program, permitting
establishment as pilot projects, authorizing the request for
federal waivers, making the program implementation subject to
appropriation of funds; creating the "West Virginia works
program fund"; defining mandatory and voluntary program
participation; eligibility for program participation;
requiring participants to work, attend school or a training
program; exemptions from work requirements; requiring all
participants to sign a personal responsibility contract and
defining required provisions; time limits for program
participation; sanctions; emergency assistance loans in lieu
of monthly cash assistance; employer subsidy for employment; transitional assistance; requiring interagency coordination;
requiring intergovernmental coordination and the use of
existing state facilities and county transportation systems
for program implementation; authorizing the secretary to
contract with community organizations to develop support
services; and relationship with other law.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter nine of the code of West Virginia, one thousand
nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by adding thereto
a new article, designated article nine, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 9. WEST VIRGINIA WORKS PROGRAM.
§9-9-1. Short title.
This article may be cited as the "WV WORKS Act".
§9-9-2. Legislative findings; purpose.
(a) The Legislature hereby finds that:
(1) At-risk families are capable of becoming self-supporting;
(2) A reformed assistance program should both expect and
assist a parent and caretaker-relatives in at-risk families to
support their dependent children;
(3) Every parent or caretaker-relative can exhibit responsible
patterns of behavior so as to be a positive role model;
(4) Every parent or caretaker-relative who receives welfare
assistance has a responsibility to participate in an activity to
help them prepare for, obtain and maintain gainful employment;
(5) For a parent or caretaker-relative who receives welfare
assistance and for whom full-time work is not feasible, participation in some activity is expected to further themselves,
their family or their community;
(6) The state should promote the value of work and the
capabilities of individuals;
(7) Job development efforts should enhance the employment
opportunities of participants;
(8) An effective public education system is the key to long-
term self-support; and
(9) A reformed assistance program should be structured to
achieve a clear set of outcomes; deliver services in an expedient,
effective and efficient manner; maximize community support for
participants; and demonstrate budget neutrality over five years.
After five years, there is expected to be a decrease in the: (i)
The number of persons receiving public assistance; (ii) the amount
of time an individual remains on public assistance; and (iii) the
amount of money spent in the West Virginia works program.
(b) The goals of the program are to achieve more efficient and
effective use of public assistance funds; reduce dependency on
public programs by promoting self-sufficiency; and structure the
assistance programs to emphasize employment and personal
responsibility. The program is to be evaluated on the increase in
employment rates in the program areas; the completion of
educational and training programs; the increased compliance in
preventive health activities, including immunizations; and a
decrease in the case-load of division personnel.
In addition to the rules for the construction of statutes in
section ten, article two, chapter two of this code and the words
and terms defined in section two, article one of this chapter, the
following words and terms when used in this article have the
following meanings unless the context clearly indicates
(a) "At-risk family" means a household consisting of a
dependent minor child or children and their parent, stepparent or
caretaker-relative living below the federally designated poverty
level and lacking the resources to become self-supporting;
(b) "Community or personal development" means activities
designed to eliminate barriers to participation in self-sufficiency
activities. These activities are to provide community benefit and
enhance personal responsibility, including, but not limited to,
classes or counseling for learning life skills or parenting,
dependent care, job readiness, volunteer work, participation in
sheltered workshops or substance abuse treatment;
(c) "Department" means the state department of health and
(d) "Division" means the division of human services;
(e) "Income" means money received by any member of an at-risk
family which can be used at the discretion of the household to meet
its basic needs: Provided, That income shall not include earnings
of minor children in school, payments received from earned income
tax credit or tax refunds;
(f) "Secretary" means the secretary of the state department of health and human resources;
(g) "Subsidized employment" means employment with earnings for
which the employer is subsidized;
(h) "Support services" means, but is not limited to, the
following services: Child care; medicaid; transportation
assistance; information and referral; resource development which is
assisting families to receive child support enforcement and
supplemental social security income; family support services which
is parenting, budgeting and family planning; relocation assistance;
and mentoring services;
(i) "Supported employment" means employment with earnings,
after mandatory deductions, that provides a level of income that
does not allow an at-risk family to exist independent of government
support such that supplemental cash assistance, child care
subsidies, food stamps, subsidized housing or other assistance may
be provided as necessary for a period of time;
(j) "Unsubsidized employment" means employment with earnings,
after mandatory deductions, that provides a level of income that
allows a family to become completely independent of government
(k) "Work" means unsubsidized employment, subsidized
employment, employment with support, work experience or community
or personal development; and
(l) "Work experience" means unpaid structured work activities
that mirror unsubsidized employment and provide training in
occupational areas that can realistically be expected to lead to unsubsidized employment.
§9-9-4. Authorization for program.
The state department of health and human resources shall
conduct the West Virginia works program in accordance with this
article and any applicable waivers from the secretary of the
federal department of health and human services and the secretary
of the federal department of agriculture.
Notwithstanding any provision of the law to the contrary, the
department shall implement the West Virginia works program as soon
as possible, but no later than three months after it receives
federal waiver approval and sufficient funds.
The secretary shall submit federal waiver proposals to permit
this state to limit the duration of assistance to adults, increase
the asset test to five thousand dollars, to disregard the
restriction that limits the primary wage earner to working less
than one hundred hours per month and to eliminate the requirement
of recent attachment to the work force.
The division may establish the program as one or more pilot
projects to test the policy being evaluated. Any pilot project so
established is to be consistent with the principles and goals set
forth in this act. The division shall determine the counties in
which to implement the provisions of this program, considering a
fair representation of both rural and urban areas, and may vary the
program components to test the effectiveness, efficiency and fiscal
impact of each prior to statewide implementation. The division is
to structure the pilot program, or programs, to include a minimum of fifteen percent of the population that qualifies for
The West Virginia works program authorized pursuant to this
act does not create an entitlement to that program or any services
offered within that program, unless entitlement is created pursuant
to a federal law or regulation. The West Virginia works program,
and each component of that program established by this act or the
expansion of any component established pursuant to federal law or
regulation, is subject to the annual appropriation of funds by the
Legislature and the corresponding federal financial participation
§9-9-5. West Virginia works program fund.
There is hereby created a special account within the state
treasury to be known as the "West Virginia Works Program Fund".
Expenditures from the fund shall be used exclusively to meet the
necessary expenditures of the program, including wage
reimbursements to participating employers, aid to dependent
children cash grants, employment-related day care payments,
transportation expenses and administrative costs directly
associated with the operation of the program. Moneys paid into the
account shall be from specific appropriations by the Legislature
and the corresponding federal financial participation moneys.
§9-9-6. Program participation.
(a) Mandatory. -- Unless otherwise noted in this article, all
adult recipients of food stamp benefits, emergency assistance or
adult members of an "at-risk family" shall be required to participate in the West Virginia works program in accordance with
the provisions of this article. The level of participation,
services to be delivered and work requirements shall be defined
within the terms of the personal responsibility contract.
(b) Voluntary. -- To the extent funding permits, any
individual exempt under the provisions of section eight of this
article may participate in the activities and programs offered
through the West Virginia works program.
§9-9-7. Work requirements
Unless otherwise exempted by the provisions of section eight
of this article, the West Virginia works program shall require that
anyone who possesses a high school diploma, or its equivalent, or
anyone who is of the age of twenty years or more, to work or attend
an educational or training program for a minimum of twenty hours
per week to receive any form of welfare assistance. In accordance
with federal law or regulation, the work, education and training
requirements of this section are waived for any qualifying
participant if day care services are not available. In order for
any participant to receive welfare assistance, he or she shall
enter into personal responsibility contracts pursuant to the
provisions of section nine of this article.
The following categories of public assistance recipients shall
be exempt from the work requirements of the program, but may be
required to develop a personal responsibility contract:
(a) A parent caring for a dependent child with a life-threatening illness;
(b) Individuals over the age of sixty years;
(c) Persons working thirty or more hours per week;
(d) Full-time students that are less than twenty years of age
and are pursuing a high school diploma or equivalent;
(e) Persons with disabilities, physical or mental, that
substantially limit one or more major life activities;
(f) Individuals suffering from a temporary debilitating
injury. For purposes of this section, the injury must cause the
temporary disability for more than thirty days;
(g) Relatives providing in-home care for an individual that
would otherwise be institutionalized; and
(h) Any woman during the last trimester of pregnancy and the
first six months after the birth of the child but in no case shall
the woman be exempt from the work requirements for more than a
total of six months.
§9-9-9. Personal responsibility contract.
(a) Every eligible adult participant shall participate in the
development, and subsequent revisions, of a personal responsibility
contract. The contract shall be defined based on the assessed
needs of the participant.
(1) If the participant has a recent attachment to the work
force, the contract shall include provisions regarding required job
search activities, identified support services, level of benefits
requested and time limitation.
(2) If the participant does not have a recent attachment to the work force, the contract shall identify the evaluation or
testing activities, and/or job training activities necessary prior
to job search activities, identified support services, benefits
requested and time limitation.
(3) If it is determined that the participant is not able to
obtain or maintain gainful employment, the contract shall contain
appropriate provisions defining the activities that benefit the
participant, their family or their community.
(4) If the participant is a parent or caretaker-relative, the
contract shall include the requirement that the participant develop
and maintain, with the appropriate health care provider, a schedule
of preventive care for their dependent child, including routine
examinations and immunizations; and establish paternity or actively
pursue child support, or both, if applicable.
(5) If the participant is a parent or caretaker-relative who
must remove barriers prior to employment, the contract shall
include a list of the identified barriers and an individual plan
for removing the same.
(6) If the participant is a teenage parent, the participant
may work and the contract shall include the requirements that the
(A) Remain in an educational activity to complete high school,
obtain a general equivalent diploma or obtain vocational training;
(B) Attend parenting classes or participate in a mentorship
program, or both; and
(C) Live at home or in other adult supervised arrangements if they are unemancipated minor parents; and
(7) If the participant is under the age of twenty years and
does not have a high school education or its equivalent, the
contract shall include requirements to participate in mandatory
education or training, which may include a return to high school if
the participant is unemployed.
(b) The participant shall have up to thirty days from approval
of application to develop the personal responsibility contract. If
the participant refuses to sign the personal responsibility
contract, the department shall stop all benefits and services until
the participant complies with this section.
§9-9-10. Participation limitation; exceptions.
The length of time a participant may receive West Virginia
works program benefits shall be defined in the personal
responsibility contract: Provided, That no participant may receive
benefits for a period longer than sixty months, except in
circumstances as defined by legislative rule pursuant to the
provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code.
(a) Any adult required to participate in the West Virginia
works program shall be sanctioned, in accordance with due process,
for failure to meet the various requirements as set forth in the
individualized personal responsibility contract. The program shall
(1) For the first noncompliance, a one-third reduction of
benefits for three months;
(2) For the second noncompliance, a two-thirds reduction in
benefits for three months; and
(3) For the third noncompliance, a termination of benefits.
(b) If compliance occurs within ten days of notice of the
sanction, the reduction in benefits shall not be imposed, but the
noncompliance shall count in determining the level of sanction to
be imposed for any future noncompliance. Once a reduction in
benefits is in effect, it shall remain in effect for the entire
three months. A reduction of benefits applies to both cash
assistance and support services. If benefits are terminated,
benefits may not be provided until the noncompliance that caused
the termination has been rectified or excused.
§9-9-12. Emergency assistance loans in lieu of monthly cash
In order to encourage at-risk families not to apply for
ongoing monthly cash assistance from the state, the secretary may
issue one-time emergency assistance loans to families in an amount
not to exceed three months of cash assistance in order to enable
such families to become immediately self-supporting: Provided,
That if within one year of receiving the loan a family subsequently
applies for monthly cash assistance, the secretary shall recover
the amount remaining unpaid on the loan from future monthly cash
assistance payments: Provided, however, That one half of the
amount of the loan may be forgiven after the recipient has been
employed in unsubsidized employment for one year and the full
amount of the loan may be forgiven after two years of unsubsidized employment.
§9-9-13. Subsidized employment.
To the extent resources are available, an employer may be paid
a subsidy by the division for the employment of a parent or
caretaker-relative of an at-risk family if the employer agrees to
hire the works program participant at the end of the subsidized
period. If the employer does not hire the participant at the end
of the subsidized period, the department shall not use that
employer for subsidized employment for the next twelve months.
§9-9-14. Transitional assistance.
The West Virginia works program may provide transitional
assistance in the form of supportive services and allow at-risk
families to retain a portion of their cash assistance when they
have earnings below fifty percent of the federally designated
poverty level. For those at-risk families with earnings between
fifty and one hundred percent of the federally designated poverty
level, supportive services may be continued.
§9-9-15. Interagency coordination.
The Legislature encourages the development of a system of
coordinated services, shared information and stream-lined
application procedures between the program and the other agencies
within the department to implement the provisions of this article.
The secretary shall require the coordination of activities between
the program and the following agencies:
(a) The child support enforcement division for the purpose of
establishing paternity, promoting cooperation in the pursuit of child support, encouraging noncustodial parents to get job search
assistance and determining eligibility for cash assistance and
(b) The bureau of public health for the purpose of determining
appropriate immunization schedules, delivery systems and
verification procedures; and
(c) The bureau of medical services for the purpose of
reporting eligibility for medical assistance and transitional
The secretary may require the coordination of procedures and
services with any other agency he or she deems necessary to
implement this program.
The secretary shall promulgate any rules, including emergency
rules, necessary for the coordination of various agency activities
in the implementation of this section.
§9-9-16. Intergovernmental coordination.
The commissioner of the bureau of employment programs and the
superintendent of the department of education shall assist the
secretary in the establishment of the West Virginia works program.
Prior to implementation of this program, each department shall
address in their respective plans the method in which their
respective resources will be devoted to facilitate the
identification of or delivery of services for participants and
shall coordinate their respective programs with the division in the
provision of services to participants and their families. Each
county board of education shall designate a person to coordinate with the local department of health and human resources office the
board's services to participant families and that person shall work
to achieve coordination at the local level.
The secretary and the superintendent shall develop a plan for
program implementation to occur with the use of existing state
facilities and county transportation systems within the project
areas whenever practicable. This agreement shall include, but not
be limited to, the use of buildings, grounds and buses. Whenever
possible, the supportive services, education and training programs
should be offered at the existing school facilities.
The commissioner shall give priority to participants of the
works program within the various programs of the bureau of
employment programs. The secretary and the commissioner shall
develop reporting and monitoring mechanisms between their
§9-9-17. Public-private partnerships.
The secretary is authorized to enter into agreements with any
private, nonprofit, charitable or religious organizations to
promote the development of the community support services necessary
for the effective implementation of this program.
§9-9-18. Relationship with other law.
If any provision of this article conflicts with any other
provision of this code or rules, the provisions of this article
shall supersede such provisions: Provided, That the provisions of
this article shall not supersede any provisions which are required
or mandated by federal law.