Wednesday, February 27, 2013

‘Food Stamp’ Program Modification Passes Committee

OKLAHOMA CITY – A House committee voted this week in favor of a bill that would disqualify those convicted of a drug felony from receiving “food stamps.”

“State lawmakers voted in 1997 to allow convicted drug felons to receive food stamps, and this legislation would reverse that decision,” said state Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy. “This will not only ensure that tax dollars are not going to criminals but that our law is the same as those of our neighbors – Arkansas, Texas and Missouri – all of whom do not allow drug felons to receive food stamps.”

The federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 contains a provision disqualifying individuals who have been convicted of a felony involving a controlled substance from receiving Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program benefits, but also allows states to opt out of the provision. 

In 1997, Oklahoma lawmakers enacted House Bill 2170, which allowed convicted drug felons to qualify.

House Bill 2014, by Roberts, reverses the decision. Individuals applying for benefits must state at the time of application or reapplication whether they or anyone in their household has been convicted of a drug-related crime.

“I wasn’t here in 1997 when that decision was made, but I can tell you that my constituents do not approve,” said Roberts. “We are going to undo this mistake and restrict the food stamp program to appropriate recipients.”

House Bill 2170 was approved by the Oklahoma House of Representatives Human Services Committee by a vote of 6-2. It now advances to the House Calendar Committee.

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