This week the Mississippi Department of Human Services has agreed to a request to delay the implementation of House Bill 49.
that would require TANF applicants to complete a questionnaire and possibly be
drug tested will not be implemented at least until the end of a public hearing comment period.
The ACLU, the ACLU of MS, and the Mississippi Center for Justice made the request on
June 20 citing the Mississippi Administrative Procedure Law that states an
agency is not permitted to adopt the law "until the period for making written submissions
and oral presentations has expired."
have taken the position that all provisions within this new law must be well
If not, the economic harm and family sanctions would be
exponential and the livelihood of TANF recipients would be left to chance,"
said Charles Irvin, Legal Director of the ACLU of Mississippi. "The public
has the right to engage in the functions of government in order to create a
more perfect union and any opportunity to ease the burden on our most at risk
citizens must be advanced."
ACLU of MS and MCJ identified legal and practical problems with the proposed
rules and regulations related to the enactment of H.B. 49.
The concern arises
from the uncertainty of who will shoulder the costs of the screening as well as
the treatment, the effect on households and children when individual TANF
recipients fail to comply with the screening requirements and the privacy
worries in the non-disclosure policy, among others.
Orlansky, Advocacy Director for the Mississippi Center for Justice, said HB 49
is a prime example of what happens when we put action before due diligence.
bill was rushed through to approval with little thought given to how it would
affect the lives of those who fall under its authority," Orlansky said. "This
puts some of the most vulnerable children in our state at even greater risk.
The state simply is not ready for the realities of this bill."
law was initially scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2014. It will be
delayed due to a scheduled public hearing on Tuesday, July 22, 2014 from 9 a.m.
until 12 p.m. at the Hinds County Extension Office on 1735 Wilson Boulevard in
The hearing, which is open to the public, will include commentary from
TANF recipients, legislators and representatives from multiple advocacy
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