Stone's office says the three bills– AB 1613, AB 1614 and AB 1579– target cash aid services.
“This package of bills will help needy parents take care of their children’s basic needs, while relieving some of the bureaucratic burden they face,” said Stone. “These bills help ensure that the programs that families rely upon are cost-effective and user-friendly.”
Here is a full description of the bills, as provided by Stone's office:
AB 1613 improves rules about benefit overpayments, in instances where counties mistakenly provide a larger dollar amount of cash aid to CalWORKs recipients than they are eligible for. Under current law, counties must collect overpayments of cash aid to a recipient by reducing the recipient's future grant amount until the overpayment is collected in full. This bill addresses the cost-effectiveness of overpayment collection and helps stabilize families in crisis by prohibiting counties from collecting overpayments when they are the result of county error and the cost to perform the collection would exceed the amount to be recovered.
AB 1614 would improve the consumer protections for CalWORKs and CalFresh recipients and empower them with information necessary to make smart and timely decisions about their benefits and their banking decisions. Recipients of CalWORKs and CalFresh programs receive monthly benefits on an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card, which can be used similarly to standard commercial debit cards. Recent outages of the EBT system have resulted in widespread hardship for recipients, impeding access to cash aid and federal nutrition benefits for extended periods of time without any notice to recipients. The state contracts with an EBT vendor through a competitive bid process which requires that recipients of public assistance have appropriate access to benefits throughout the state. Under the bill, the next EBT contract with the state requires the contractor to proactively inform recipients and retailers in the case of outages of EBT system lasting for more than an hour.
AB 1579 would help ensure that poor pregnant women are healthier and can prepare for a new baby by allowing eligible pregnant women who do not have any other children to access CalWORKs benefits upon the medical verification of their pregnancy. Under current law, pregnant women may not access benefits until the three-month period prior to the birth of the child, unless they are under the age of 18. This bill simplifies this policy by extending the benefit to all eligible pregnant women.