GOP-led Maine Senate approves 9-month limit on general assistance benefits

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AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Senate has given initial approval to a bill that would place a nine-month limit on general assistance benefits.

The Republican-led Senate supported the bill by a 24-11 vote on Thursday. Under Republican Sen. Eric Brakey's bill, people who have no children and are capable of working would be limited to nine months on the municipal welfare program. Once they use up their benefits, they'd be ineligible for five years.

Democrats said the move would devastate those who have nowhere else to turn in an emergency. But Assistant Republican Leader Andre Cushing said general assistance should be a "lifeline, not a hammock."

The legislative fiscal office says the number of people who currently receive benefits for more than 9 months isn't estimated to be significant percentage of all recipients.

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