What is WelFAIR?

House Majority Policy Committee

April 2011 

WelFAIR (Fairness, Accountability, Integrity and Responsibility) represents the House Republican Caucus’s effort to help rebuild Pennsylvania’s broken welfare system. Years of documented fraud and abuse have wasted millions in tax dollars and fractured the public’s trust in the system. This initiative is aimed at ensuring only those deserving of public assistance receive it, weeding out welfare abuse and restoring integrity to the system.


·         Drug Testing for Public Assistance (Drug Felons): This bill would require random testing for welfare recipients (those receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and General Assistance) with previous felony drug convictions within five years of assistance. Twenty percent of these individuals would be tested every six months. Individuals would be tested before benefits could be approved.

o   Sponsor: Rep Garth Everett (R-Lycoming)
- PASSED by the House
- ENACTED into Law

·         IEVS (Income Eligibility Verification System): This bill would implement an electronic cross-reference system within the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) to provide a 19-point check on applicants’ eligibility to ensure only those eligible for benefits receive them.

o   Sponsor: Rep. Mauree Gingrich (R-Lebanon)
- PASSED by the House
- ENACTED into Law

·         Photo ID: This legislation would use photo identification to ensure benefits aren’t misused.

o   Sponsor: Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-Cumberland/Franklin)

·         Strengthen Welfare Fraud Penalties: This legislation would strengthen penalties on welfare fraud to bring the current Welfare Code penalties in line with existing welfare fraud penalties in the Crimes Code.

o   Sponsor: Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne)
- PASSED by the House


·          Welfare Benefit Oversight (County Assistance Office Applications): This bill would ensure that eligible welfare applicants are afforded assistance based on levels authorized in their county of permanent legal residence, regardless of where benefit applications are made in the Commonwealth. This would prevent individuals from applying for benefits in a county other than their legal residence as a means to secure greater benefits.

o   Sponsor: Rep. Tom Quigley (R-Montgomery)

- PASSED by the House
- ENACTED into Law 

·         Special Allowance Reform (Job Transition Loans): This bill would transition the fraud-laden special allowance program to a loan-based initiative geared toward helping welfare recipients become self-sufficient. The plan would provide support for those who truly need it, but ask that they be accountable for any funds provided by the state. Further, it would incentivize people to move from welfare to work.

o    Sponsor: Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery)

- PASSED by the House


·         Prohibiting Tobacco Purchase: This legislation would prohibit the purchase of tobacco or tobacco-related products with welfare-issued electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards. Currently, these cards can be used at a point-of-purchase to buy tobacco, which is counterproductive to the intent of the state’s public assistance support.

o   Sponsor: Rep. Mike Reese (R-Fayette/Westmoreland)


·         Medical Assistance Transportation Program Reform: This legislation would implement new guidelines and restrictions on the existing Medical Assistance Transportation Program to ensure services are not being abused and tax dollars being wasted.

o    Sponsor: Rep. Donna Oberlander (R- Clarion /Armstrong)
- PASSED by the House
- Portions ENACTED into law

·     Reform of Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Weatherization Assistance Program: This bill would reform the LIHEAP and weatherization programs by strengthening fraud reporting requirements, mandating the implementation of a conflict of interest policy to prevent self-dealing by agencies and contracts, and requiring periodic performance audits of these programs by the Auditor General.  The bill would also expand the use of IEVS to verify income for these programs.

o Sponsor: Rep. Bryan Cutler (R- Lancaster)
- PASSED by the House
- ENACTED into law