ATLANTA – Legislation extending aid to pregnant women in Georgia through the federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program sailed through the state House of Representatives on Monday.

Soo Hong

State Rep. Soo Hong

House Bill 129, which passed 173-1, is sponsored by freshman Rep. Soo Hong, R-Lawrenceville, one of Gov. Brian Kemp’s House floor leaders. Kemp proposed the legislation during his State of the State address last month.

Rep. Michelle Au, D-Johns Creek, spoke in support of the bill but used the occasion to call on the General Assembly to update the criteria used to qualify for TANF benefits, which haven’t changed in more than 30 years.

A parent can earn an annual salary of no more than $9,400 to be eligible for TANF. That’s so low that only 40% of Georgians living below the poverty line qualify for the program, Au said.

“TANF benefits have not been updated since 1991,” she said. “What has happened to the price of goods and services in the last 32 years?”

The bill now heads to the Georgia Senate.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.