Kansas lawmakers disagree over public assistance

Work requirement at issue

A fresh battle could be brewing over the Kansas public assistance program.

Democratic Governor-elect Laura Kelly wants Kansas lawmakers to roll back a work requirement and other rules for cash assistance recipients.

But new House Majority Leader and Wichita Republican Dan Hawkins said Tuesday that the idea is going to be difficult to sell to the GOP-controlled Legislature.

Kelly has long been a critic of the tougher rules imposed during former Republican Governor Sam Brownback’s administration. GOP lawmakers put Brownback’s policies into state law in 2015 to make them harder to undo and tightened them in 2016.

Kelly, a veteran state senator from Topeka, suggested Tuesday that the cash assistance rules have put additional stress on poor families. But many GOP lawmakers believe the rules promote self-sufficiency.

The rules include not only a work requirement for able-bodied adults but a lifetime limit on benefits of no more than 36 months.