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La Liga de Las Americas

Granholm signs legislation changing welfare system, allowing Tasers

LANSING, Dec. 20 (AP): Gov. Jennifer Granholm announced the signing of several bills Wednesday, including those that spark changes to the state’s welfare system. Granholm was expected to approve the legislation, crafted as part of an agreement with leaders in the state Legislature last week.

The new laws will limit Michigan welfare recipients to four years of cash assistance, with several exceptions, starting in October 2007.

Several exceptions are built into the legislation to make sure that people aren't arbitrarily kicked off welfare. The Department of Human Services can create rules letting people with “extenuating circumstances'' stay on welfare beyond four years.

The measure also sets up penalties for recipients who don't comply with work or educational requirements. Recipients could apply for a fifth year of cash assistance if they haven't been sanctioned and the job market is down.

The laws expire in 2011, meaning the Legislature will need to renew them before anyone is actually kicked off welfare.

Also Wednesday, Granholm signed a bill letting city detention facilities and some private security officers use Tasers, or stun guns. Police officers and others in law enforcement have been able to carry the weapons since 2002.

The devices temporarily disable people with electric shocks and are billed as a safer way to subdue combative suspects. But critics have questioned exempting more people from a state ban against Tasers, citing Taser-related deaths around the country.

The welfare bills are Senate Bills 1500-01 and House Bills 6580 and 6587. The Taser bill is HB 5435. On the Net: Michigan Legislature: http://www.legislature.mi.gov





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