Governor Jim Justice signed into law, a bill that imposes work requirements on able-bodied adults that receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, referred to as SNAP.
Effective Oct. 1, 2018, any able-bodied adult, a person between 18 and 49 years of age without dependents, must either work, volunteer or participate in workforce training programs for 20 hours per week to receive SNAP benefits.
This bill rescinds West Virginia’s ability to allow the Department of Health and Human Resources to issue waivers to SNAP
recipients from the federal work requirements for able-bodied working adults.
States tried implementing work requirements for benefit recipients for years, but efforts stalled because of the 2009 economic stimulus
put in place by the Obama administration.
The bill requires DHHR to report the employment impact of the work requirements, SNAP caseload and other figures to the Legislature.
Nine counties in the state have undergone a pilot program of SNAP work requirements.
According to released data from the
U.S. Department of Agriculture,
14.9 percent of West Virginian households faced food insecurity between 2014 and 2016, a 5.6 percent increase from 10 years ago.
West Virginia households receiving SNAP benefits increased 50 percent between 2006 and 2016.
Data from West Virginia Foodlink shows 330,000 of West Virginians received SNAP benefits in 2017, including 1 in 3 children in the state.
Seth DiStefano, the policy outreach director for the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, said in a statement that Justice reneged on his promise not to hurt people by signing the bill, and ignored overwhelming opposition at a public hearing,
during the legislative session.
In addition, Justice signed House Bill 4015
into law, which increases reporting requirements on the state vehicle fleet and gives the State Auditor’s Office latitude to conduct spot compliance audits.
Justice also signed House Bill 4150,
which prohibits telemarketers from transmitting inaccurate or misleading caller identification information to disguise an incoming call.
In 2018 state legislative sessions
so far, two states enacted legislation related to SNAP work requirements:
West Virginia enacted legislation that will rescind SNAP work requirement waivers for all counties in 2020.
Wisconsin enacted legislation that requires all ABAWDs to participate in the state’s E&T program at the federal maximum: 120 hours per month.
An additional six states–Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Louisiana–introduced legislation that would, in some form, eliminate SNAP work requirement waivers.
States also introduced legislation that would bring stricter governance to the work element of the SNAP program:
Illinois introduced legislation that would require SNAP applicants to submit a plan for achieving employment and self-sufficiency to receive benefits.
Michigan introduced legislation that, in addition to work requirements, would require a high school diploma or general education development (GED) equivalency to receive SNAP benefits.
Missouri introduced legislation that would increase the disqualification periods for SNAP beneficiaries who fail to comply with work requirements.
Current SNAP Work Requirements by State
While a majority of states follow the federal minimum disqualification periods (one month for the first instance, three months for the second, and six months for the third), a number of states limit SNAP benefits through extending their disqualification periods or otherwise adding harsher sanctions:
DC, Guam and 22 states follow the federal regulatory minimum.
Seventeen states have extended disqualification periods.
Six states disqualify the entire family if the head of the household fails to comply.
Four states have both extended disqualification periods and disqualify the entire family.
One state, Mississippi, has extended disqualification periods, disqualifies the entire family, and permanently disqualifies the recipient after the third noncompliance.
People need to work to support their families. The government is not our parent. The government relies on working people who pay in their taxes to cover those who don’t work. Nothing is free.
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