Opponents name linking meals help to youngster assist ‘merciless’ | 406 Politics

Scott Centorino of the conservative think tank Foundation for Government Accountability was the only supporter to testify in favor of the law. He pointed to similar laws that had been passed in other states, which he believed had led to a large increase in child support collections.

“Single mothers get the money they owe so they can get out of welfare,” Centorino said. Regarding the requirement that these welfare beneficiaries work with child support programs, he added, “Most of the time, this just means not slamming the door in front of people trying to get you the support you owe.”

However, more than a dozen opponents of the legislation painted a terrible picture of how this requirement would affect single parents, especially women. The chairman of the committee, Rep. Dennis Lenz, R-Billings, limited the speakers to three minutes each.

Breanna Belgard, a victim advocate from Dillon, told the committee that many women have valid reasons not to participate in government child welfare programs. She told the story of her friend who had a judicial maintenance contract with an abusive former partner for her three children.

“This man would threaten to quit his job and work under the table for cash. He would threaten to withhold child benefit if he does not receive sexual favors,” she said. “He would threaten not to return her children after the visit, and he would sometimes ask her to pay all or part of her tax returns after she filed her taxes.”

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