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New Jersey lawmakers advance bill to formally repeal 'family cap' welfare law

New Jersey lawmakers advance bill to formally repeal 'family cap' welfare law

New Jersey is on the brink of scrapping a controversial state law barring families receiving welfare from getting a larger stipend if the mother gives birth while receiving government benefits.

Lawmakers in both chambers of the state legislature this week passed a bill informally known as the family cap law, which original sponsors intended as a disincentive for women on welfare from having more children. The bill repealing the law now heads to Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D) desk.

Murphy’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill regarding his intentions.

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Should it become law, the bill would add at least $1.1 million to the state budget, according to an approximation from the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services.

New Jersey was the first state to implement the so-called family cap law, which is now in effect in 13 other states, according to Pew Charitable Trusts.

Critics say the law as it stands deprives families of needed government assistance, and studies have suggested that family caps do little to decrease the number of children born on public assistance and could even push families deeper into poverty. 

“This harmful policy denies critical increased assistance to our very low-income families in our state, harming the family’s ability to provide for basic needs with the addition of a new baby,” Renee Koubiadis, executive director of the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey, told state legislators Tuesday.

The law was effectively repealed as parts of state budgets that were approved in 2018 and 2019, though the law itself remains largely intact.