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New legislation would empower states to reduce poverty

In an attempt to rebuild rural America, two Republican senators introduced legislation that will provide states the flexibility to modernize programs low-income families and individuals find long-term success.

U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the Economic, Prosperity, and Opportunities with Waivers that Enable Reforms for States (EMPOWERS) Act.

Senator Ernst said the legislation encourages states to have the ability to develop solutions that utilize federal resources to remove barriers for self-sufficiency.

“This legislation is focused on giving states the flexibility to modernize programs by identifying the challenges faced by low-income families and individuals, and creating pathways to opportunity to help lift families out of poverty,” Ernst said. “Specifically, the EMPOWERS Act would allow states to apply for four-year, temporary waivers to integrate and reform two or more federal programs that assist folks in need.”

To receive a waiver, states would submit a proposal for a cost-neutral pilot project, designed to reduce poverty and promote employment, savings, financial literacy, family stability and self-sufficiency for participants.

States obtaining waivers would receive the same level of funding that residents in their states would otherwise receive for the covered programs, and would be required to reinvest savings helping low-income families and individuals.

Governor Kim Reynolds said the EMPOWERS Act takes a major step forward in aligning how the state and nation come together, to do everything both entities can to help the most vulnerable achieve a better quality of life.

“I believe that it will give Iowans even more opportunities to succeed,” Reynolds said. “Ultimately, our goals are to reduce poverty and ensure a better quality of life for all. Through the EMPOWERS Act, states will have the flexibility to streamline funding among various federal programs, in a smarter, more efficient way.”

Senator Ernst and Governor Reynolds spoke on the EMPOWERS Act a press conference within the Iowa Capital Friday.