Study committees are an integral part of the work of the legislature in the state of Georgia. As part of my continuing work as a legislator, I have been appointed to a study committee tasked with investigating welfare fraud.
Study committees begin, as most things, with a problem, concern or even a question. Some are generated by a group of members who come together over an issue, perhaps arising out of committee work the members have worked together on in the past. From this desire to know more about an issue, a resolution is drafted.
The first part of the resolution states the reasons for the study committee. It clearly articulates why the study committee is needed. It further states the benefits of the study committee, expressing clearly how the committee seeks to make better policy for Georgia.
The resolution will also set the parameters of the study committee. These include the number of members, the type of member, whether it be House or Senate, the number of meetings, the officers of the committee, the powers and duties of the committee, the number and location of meetings, how committee members will be compensated, and the final report the committee will generate.
There are three types of study committees, House committees, (being comprised of only House members), Senate committees, (being comprised of only Senate members) and Joint Committees, (being comprised of both House and Senate members).
The Welfare Fraud Committee is a House study committee. It was formed when House Resolution 829 was passed during the 2015 session. The number of members, as stated by the Resolution that created it, is 5. The Speaker of the House determines the exact makeup of the study committee, but the House member who carried the resolution can have a great impact on committee membership.
The Welfare Fraud Study Committee was established to study why the welfare rolls are expanding in Georgia. The resolution found that two people are added to the food stamp rolls for every person who gets a job in the United States, and the number of recipients has increased from 17 million in 2000 to 48 million in 2015. This is despite the fact that the poverty levels have dropped 2% over the last five years, but the number of food stamp recipients has increased by 18%.
The Resolution clarifies the benefits of welfare reform to the state of Georgia. By reforming food stamp eligibility, the state could save 5-6 million dollars annually. And by reforming PeachCare, the state could save 38-87 million dollars annually.
I look forward to the work of the Welfare Fraud Study Committee. Hearings will begin soon. If any of you have any questions, concerns or opinions about the committee, I encourage you to let me know.