Food stamps for drug felons bill heads to Governor's desk for approval

Indiana denies SNAP for drug convictions

INDIANAPOLIS--  A bill that would lift a lifetime ban on drug felons from getting food stamps is headed to Governor Eric Holcomb’s desk to be signed into Indiana law.

Currently, Indiana is one of just four states that prohibits individuals with a prior drug felony conviction from receiving SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), even if they are otherwise eligible.

The language lifting the ban was originally included in Senate Bill 11, but was amended into House Bill 1317.

With a 36-13 Senate vote, House Bill 1317 is now headed for its last hurdle—the Governor’s desk.
Call 6 Investigates was there as fifteen groups testified in support of the legislation including Goodwill, United Way, Midwest Food Bank, Indiana Institute for Working Families, Indiana Catholic Conference and the Indiana Township Association.

The Indiana Township Association testified drug felons turned away from SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) often end up asking township trustees for financial assistance, which comes out of your property tax dollars.

The bill requires each SNAP recipient successfully complete probation, parole, community corrections or another post-conviction monitoring program.

If the convict violates the terms of their probation, parole or other monitoring, they will not be eligible for SNAP, according to the legislation.

Currently, about 636,500 individuals are on SNAP in Indiana.

Supporters said it would reduce the risk of offenders re-offending and save taxpayers money.

Supporters said for every $5 spent on SNAP, another $9.20 goes back into the economy, totaling about $27.5 million in economic impact for the state.

The Indiana Institute for Working Families estimates that people with prior felony conviction earn on average only, $11,000 a year, that's an average monthly wage deficit of $627.  

The change would take effect January 1, 2020.

In 2016, Call 6 Investigates found dozens of Hoosiers receiving SNAP that did not appear to need the benefits.
 

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