AGO 1992-008.

Case Date:March 24, 1992
Connecticut Attorney General Opinions 1992. AGO 1992-008. March 24, 1992Opinion No. 1992-008Senator John B. Larson President Pro Tempore State of Connecticut SenateRoom 3300Legislative Office BuildingHartford, Connecticut 06106Representative Edward C. Krawiecki, Jr. Minority Leader State of Connecticut House of RepresentativesState CapitolHartford, Connecticut 06106 Dear Sen. Larson and Rep. Krawiecki: We are writing in response to your February 25, 1992, and February 27, 1992, requests for an Opinion on the constitutionality of proposed measures before the General Assembly which would impose durational residency requirements upon persons seeking General Assistance welfare benefits in the State of Connecticut. Specifically, you ask: 1) whether the State may deny General Assistance benefits to persons not satisfying a durational residency requirement; 2) whether the State may restrict General Assistance benefits for newcomers to a lower level of support than is available to longer term residents of Connecticut; and 3) whether any such restriction tied to the level of welfare support available in newcomers' previous states of domicile, is permissible. Under each scenario presented, new residents to the state would be ineligible for public welfare benefits which longer term residents could obtain. It is unquestionably valid for States to guard against the depletion of resources by limiting their availability to only "bona fide" residents. A determination of bona fide residency generally depends on an individual's place of residence in a state, plus the intent to remain, as may be evidenced by one's voter registration, driver's license, and similar criteria. See 72 Conn.Op.Atty.Gen. (9/6/72).1 As observed in Attorney General of New York v. Soto-Lopez, 476 U.S. at 903 (n. 3): "A bona fide residence requirement, appropriately defined and uniformly applied, furthers the substantial state interest in assuring that services provided for its residents are enjoyed only by residents. Such a requirement ... [generally] does not burden or penalize the constitutional right of interstate travel, for any person is free to move to a State and to establish residence there. A bona fide residence requirement simply requires that the person does establish residence before demanding the services that are restricted to residents." 461 U.S., at 328-329, 103 S.Ct., at 1842-1843." While the requirement that individuals that receive state benefits be bona fide residents is appropriate, a "durational" residency requirement--a requirement that determines benefits based upon the length of time of residence--is subject to constitutional scrutiny. The validity of durational residency requirements has been tested in a number of equal protection cases challenging states' classifications according to residency. Over the past 23 years, the United States Supreme Court has consistently found...

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