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256J.462 Sanctions; county options.

Subdivision 1. County sanction policy plan. In addition to the sanctions under section 256J.46, a county agency may annually modify sanctions for noncompliant MFIP participants by implementing one of the sanction options under this section for a sixth or subsequent occurrence of noncompliance.

Subd. 2. Procedure. (a) If a county modifies sanctions for noncompliant participants, a county agency must develop and submit to the commissioner, by April 15, a proposed sanction policy plan that describes the sanctions imposed for each occurrence of noncompliance. A county agency must include the sanction policy plan as part of its local service unit plan under section 268.88.

(b) A county agency must send a written notice to MFIP participants at least 60 days before a county implements a modification of its sanction policy under this section. The county must also send a notice of adverse action prior to implementing a sanction under subdivision 3.

(c) For the purpose of applying sanctions under this section, only occurrences of noncompliance that occur after the effective date of the sanctions implemented under this section shall be considered. If the participant is in 30 percent sanction in the month the sanction takes effect, that month counts as the first occurrence for purposes of applying the sanctions under this section, but the sanction shall remain at 30 percent for that month.

(d) If an assistance unit that is in sanction status moves to a county that has adopted more severe sanctions than the assistance unit's previous county of residence, the participant shall be subject to the level of sanction that was imposed in the previous county of residence for the first six months of residence in the new county or until the participant comes into compliance, whichever occurs earlier.

(e) If both participants in a two-parent assistance unit are out of compliance at the same time, it is considered one occurrence of noncompliance.

Subd. 3. Sanction options. A county agency may modify its sanction policy by implementing one of the following sanctions for a sixth or subsequent occurrence of noncompliance:

(a) The county agency may vendor pay the assistance unit's shelter or utility costs, or both costs, up to the amount of the cash portion of the MFIP grant for which the assistance unit is eligible. The residual amount of the grant after vendor payment, if any, shall be reduced to zero. The sanction must be in effect for a minimum of one month and shall be removed the month following the month in which the participant returns to compliance. In a two-parent assistance unit, the sanction must be in effect for a minimum of one month and shall be removed the month following the month in which both participants return to compliance. The vendor payment of shelter or utility costs, or both, shall be removed six months after the month in which the participant returns to compliance.

(b) The county agency may disqualify an assistance unit from receiving MFIP, both the cash and food portions. This disqualification must be in effect for one full month. Disqualification under this paragraph does not make a participant automatically ineligible for food stamps. The county shall determine eligibility for food stamps and assist the participant in applying for food stamps, if eligible.

Subd. 4. Case review. Before a sanction under this section is imposed, a county agency shall conduct the case review required under section 256J.46, subdivision 1, paragraph (e).

Subd. 5. Eligibility after disqualification due to noncompliance. In the sanction policy plan under subdivision 2, a county may propose restrictions on assistance units that reapply for MFIP after disqualification for noncompliance under subdivision 3, paragraph (b). Such restrictions may not include permanent disqualification for noncompliance. Any restrictions must be limited to the first six months of MFIP eligibility following reapplication, provided that the participant complies with work requirements for the entire six months. Such restrictions may include:

(1) requiring participants to comply with work requirements for a period not to exceed one month before the assistance unit could regain MFIP eligibility;

(2) requiring that reapplying assistance units remain in ten percent sanction for six months; and

(3) changing the policy for subsequent sanctions for noncompliance to shorten the time frame before disqualification.

Subd. 6. Sanction policy review. The commissioner may review a county's sanction policies and practices if the county has a high or low sanction rate as compared to other counties or a high sanction rate for certain hard-to-serve participants. The commissioner shall require a county agency to complete corrective actions to remedy identified agency errors or misapplications of policy and may suspend a county's authority to impose sanction options under this section until the corrective actions are taken.

HIST: 1Sp2001 c 9 art 10 s 33

* NOTE: This section, as added by Laws 2001, First Special *Session chapter 9, article 10, section 33, is effective March 1, *2002. Laws 2001, First Special Session chapter 9, article 10, *section 33, the effective date.