Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Signs Bill Removing Asset Test for Food Assistance in Michigan

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The legislation eliminates the asset test requirement, which had been implemented during the tenure of former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.

Food Assistance in Michigan
Food Assistance in Michigan ( Photo: Michigan Radio )

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan has taken a significant step towards improving access to food assistance for vulnerable individuals and families by signing a bill into law on Wednesday

With this move, Michigan becomes the 36th state to remove the asset test for food assistance, cash assistance, and emergency relief.

In 2019, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had already eased the asset test benchmark through administrative powers. However, the recently signed legislation by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer completely eliminates the requirement. This move aims to ensure that food benefits are accessible to Michiganders who truly need them, without imposing unnecessary and illogical tradeoffs.

The bill received substantial support in the Senate, passing with a 25-13 vote, and in the House, with a 56-53 vote. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer expressed her satisfaction with the outcome, emphasizing her gratitude towards the organizations, advocates, and legislators, including Senator Irwin, who tirelessly fought to make this change possible.

Under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s leadership, the Department of Health and Human Services had already raised the asset test benchmark to $15,000 in late 2019, up from the previous limit of $5,000. It’s important to note that the asset limit is separate from federal income limit requirements, which are based on the federal poverty level.

The Michigan League for Public Policy estimates that this elimination of the asset test will benefit over 700,000 households in Michigan currently receiving SNAP benefits

By removing the unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles associated with the application process, the new law aims to streamline access to assistance for those in need. Importantly, the repeal of the 2012 law is not expected to have an impact on the state budget since it relies on federal funds.

State Sen. Jeff Irwin of Ann Arbor highlighted the importance of an improved safety net, stating, “Our safety net works better if it can catch people before they hit the ground.

However, not everyone agrees with the decision. House Republican Leader Matt Hall expressed concerns about the bill, suggesting that it would allow “lottery winners” and “millionaires” to receive food assistance. He referred to a case in which a Bay County man received food stamps after winning a $2 million lottery prize. Nevertheless, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s focus remains on ensuring that vulnerable households have access to essential food resources.


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