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Utah Senate Passes Bill Requiring Self-Reliance Classes to Receive Assistance

Brian Grimmett/KUER
File: Utah State Capitol

The Utah Senate has passed a bill that would require recipients of welfare to complete a 2-hour long self-reliance class.

Republican Sen. Lincoln Fillmore says he’s running the bill because he’d like to see a shift in the way the government thinks about providing people with public assistance.

“When people need help, we’ve decided that we’re going to get together and help them," he says. "But the most important thing we can do to help people is to provide for them the tools whereby they can gain skills, knowledge to be able to help themselves.”

SB153 would require all recipients of government assistance, from Food Stamps to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, to complete a two-hour self-reliance course within 90-days of receiving it. Fillmore says it’s just a first step in the attempt at reform, but Democratic Sen. Luz Escamilla says a two-hour class isn’t going to accomplish anything and the bill simply penalizes people for being poor.

“To me, I don’t think the Senator even knows who these individuals are," she says. "It really tells me that he’s completely detached from the realities of the working class families.”

While the bill passed the Senate along party lines, implementation could be problematic. To require the class for programs that receive federal funding, like Food Stamps, the Utah Department of Workforce Services would have to ask for and receive a waiver from the federal government. 

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