MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Today the Bush administration will redefine work requirements for welfare. In the past, what qualified as work was mostly left up to the states. But Stacey Vanek-Smith says the White House is weighing in.

STACEY VANEK-SMITH: Reading "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," running errands for friends . . . these are things some states count as fulfilling work requirements for welfare.

So the Bush Administration is issuing more specific definitions of what people must do to qualify for TANIF, that's the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

But Jennifer Noyes with the Institute for Research on Poverty worries the new rules could cripple states' flexibility.

JENNIFER NOYES: Part of the beauty of TANIF has been that every state could take the block grant and implement within it's local situation. My biggest concern would be that in response to some of those states that maybe have not done as well, that these regulations might tighten things up way too much.

Some say state innovation is the major reason welfare rolls have dropped nearly 60 percent in the last decade.

I'm Stacey Vanek-Smith for Marketplace.

Follow Stacey Vanek Smith at @svaneksmith