Stacey Campfield wants to cut welfare to families if their children don’t perform well in school. The Tennessee state senator is well-known around the country for his ignorant and anti-gay remarks, like claiming it’s “virtually impossible” for HIV/AIDS to be transmitted via intercourse between a man and a woman, and for being the author of Tennessee’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
“This is just restricting it [food stamps] to those who are truly in need versus those who are abusing the system,” Campfield says, calling his bill a step toward “breaking the cycle of poverty,” as he told KnoxNews:
“If the family doesn’t care if the child goes to school or does well in school, the odds of that child getting out of poverty are pretty low,” the senator said.
The bill applies to the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program. Current law says parents or guardians of children who are receiving benefits can lose 20 percent of their benefits if a child does not attend school.
Campfield’s bill adds a new requirement that the child make “satisfactory academic progress” as well and raises the penalty to 30 percent of benefits.
“The maximum benefit for a mother with two children is $185 a month,” [executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, Linda] O’Neal said in an interview. “That’s already low. If you take 60-plus dollars away, you’re just further limiting people who already have extremely few resources… It’s just piling on.”
Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis said he would oppose the bill because it would “stack the deck against at-risk children.”
“How does Sen. Campfield expect a child to do his homework when there is no food on the dinner table?” he said.
Last year, Senator Campfield was able to pass a bill requiring drug testing — presumably, urine tests — for welfare recipients.
Campfield last year also became the object of much scorn and ridicule, as his infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill was placed on hold after lawmakers realized that the bill was not only unnecessary — from their own standpoint — but counterproductive as well. In grades K -8, the bill would have made it illegal to discuss homosexuality in any manner at all, and allow only the discussion of heterosexual reproduction. Lawmakers put a hold on the bill upon learning — after more than two years of debate — that Tennessee does not have sex education classes in grades K – 8.
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