RepublicanÂ State Rep. Andy Holt of TennesseeÂ has introduced new legislation that would require welfare recipients in the state to prove theyâ€™re seeking work.
According to a Feb. 16 release on Holtâ€™s website, theÂ law would require able-bodied adults to prove theyâ€™ve contacted at least three employers per week, which would then be verified by the Department of Labor.
The law would also encourageÂ welfare recipients to seek jobs in all fields, rather than just inÂ ones they may be more qualified for.
â€śUnder current law, I can say that Iâ€™m an underwater basket weaver and simply cannot find a job. Therefore, I still get unemployment,â€ť Holt said in the release. â€śIf there is an available job out there, you should be applying so long as you are able of doing the work.â€ť
Those found to beÂ defrauding the welfare system would be punished immediately, rather than continue to receive benefits for severalÂ weeks.
â€śIf youâ€™re caught committing unemployment fraud, and are taking away resources from those that need them most, I donâ€™t care if itâ€™s for one day. Youâ€™re out,â€ť Holt said. â€śSo, weâ€™ll be removing that 8 week window that basically legalizes unemployment fraud.â€ť
While more states are implementing new welfare restrictions or reinstating old requirements because of the economyâ€™s rebound, some argue that the system itself is inconsiderate of extenuating circumstances.
Tennessee residentÂ Terry WorkÂ told KTOO that her adult son, who is deaf, is considered able-bodied by the state. Although he has difficulty holding on to a job because of his hearing problems, he would be subjected to standards like those proposed by Holt.
Critics are concerned about the shifting standards and theirÂ impact nationwide. An estimated 1 million low-income residents in 21 states stand to lose their food stamps due to theÂ work requirements, several of which wentÂ into effect inÂ February.
â€śI know thereâ€™s going to be a lot of people in the county hurt by this,â€ť said Work,Â who founded aÂ social service agency in a community just outside Nashville.