Haslam bill toughening fraud enforcement, increasing welfare benefits returns to House floor after rocky start

Gov. Bill Haslam gives his annual State of the State address to a joint convention of the Tennessee General Assembly Monday, Jan. 29, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

NASHVILLE - Legislative supporters hope this week to get back on track a Haslam administration bill that toughens fraud enforcement in the state's welfare program while also boosting families' cash payments for the first time in nearly a quarter century.

The bill was almost derailed on the House floor last week when proponents narrowly failed to quash an amendment to keep the new enforcement provisions while eliminating the first increases to the program since its 1996 inception.

That prompted Rep. Dan Howell, R-Georgetown, the sponsor, to delay further consideration. The bill is scheduled to come back Monday to the House floor.

"I think we have the votes to pass it," Howell said Friday. "Unfortunately, the people who stood to oppose it and tried to amend it focused on one aspect of the bill.