Bill bans food stamps for drug convicts

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OKLAHOMA CITY—Oklahomans who have been convicted of a drug felony may no longer be eligible for food stamps under a new bill in the Okla. House of Representatives.

The federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 states that anyone who has been convicted of a drug felony is disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits.

However, the bill also allows states to opt out of that provision.

In 1997, Oklahoma lawmakers did just that.

They enacted HB 2170, which allowed convicted drug felons to qualify for Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program benefits.

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

House Bill 2014 reverses that decision.

“State lawmakers voted in 1997 to allow convicted drug felons to receive food stamps, and this legislation would reverse that decision,” said Rep. Roberts. “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.”

Under the new bill, individuals who are applying for benefits must disclose whether they or anyone in their household has been convicted of a drug-related crime.

The bill now heads to the House Calendar Committee.