HBA-MPM H.B. 1004 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 1004 By: Naishtat Human Services 2/23/2001 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE In 1995, the 74th Legislature initiated welfare reform in Texas. When the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act passed in 1996, the state was allowed to take advantage of a waiver option authorizing a delay in implementing some of the new federal provisions. The waiver expires in March of 2002, and federal regulations do not allow Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) clients who pursue post-secondary education for more than 12 months to be counted in the data collected by a state in determining its work participation rates. However, the state is not prohibited from continuing to serve clients engaged in continuing education past this 12-month limit as long as the state continues to meet federal work participation rates without counting these students. House Bill 1004 codifies the work activities that currently count as participation under Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) rules with two additions and authorizes TWC to permit a TANF client to complete additional vocational education training that exceeds one year if the client demonstrates progress toward employment goals. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking authority is expressly granted to the Texas Workforce Commission in SECTION 1 (Section 301.0675, Labor Code) of this bill. ANALYSIS House Bill 1004 amends the Labor Code to require the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) to determine, by rule, the work or employment activities in which a person must participate to comply with the work requirements for an adult receiving financial assistance. In adopting rules, TWC shall provide for a broad array of permissible work or employment activities designed to assist a person in entering the workforce and becoming self-supporting, address and remove barriers to these goals, and exercise all flexibility in permissible work or employment activities authorized by federal law. The bill sets forth specific permissible work or employment activities TWC must include in its rules, including activities designed to address and remove barriers to employment, and instruction in English as a second language. The bill authorizes a person to comply with work requirements through participation in job search and job readiness assistance activities for an unlimited time period, except that TWC is authorized to impose a time limit if a person fails to comply with a requirement imposed in connection with the person's employability plan and any other generally applicable requirement. The bill authorizes TWC to permit, on a case-by-case basis, a person to be in compliance with work requirements by completing vocational education training designed to result in an associate, baccalaureate, or advanced degree if the training was previously initiated by the person. The bill also authorizes a person to be in compliance with work requirements through participation in vocational education training that does not lead to a degree for no more than one year. The bill authorizes TWC to allow a period of vocational training that exceeds one year if the person demonstrates progress, as defined by TWC rules, toward the person's employment goals. EFFECTIVE DATE On passage.