Favola’s Safety-Net Legislation Expands on McDonnell’s Food Stamp Law
Richmond, VA – February 14, 2012 – Today, welfare legislation sponsored by Senator Barbara A. Favola (D – 31st) baring striking similarity to a 2005 law introduced by then-Delegate Bob McDonnell was passed out of the Senate with bipartisan support. Senate Bill 552 would expand eligibility for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits to the same group of criminal record-holders that Governor McDonnell’s 2005 law enfranchised in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP), or the Virginia food stamp program. Both pieces of legislation overturn lifetime bans on ex-offenders convicted of felony drug possession receiving state benefits.
Senator Favola said, “Both Governor McDonnell’s 2005 food stamp law and my own piece of legislation are compassionate changes to existing law that restore fairness to social services by widening our safety net to include ex-offenders convicted of the non-violent crime of drug possession.”
“Under current law, felons who are convicted of other crimes, including murder in the first degree, are eligible to receive TANF benefits, but possession of marijuana is a crime that will permanently bar needy families from participating in the TANF safety-net program. Today in Virginia, children of ex-offenders are forced to share the consequences of their parents’ mistakes. I think that’s plain unfair, and I’m fighting to restore fairness to safety-net programs.”
TANF assistance goes to families with children who are the poorest of the poor. These families live right on the edge, owning very few assets and have little or no income. To qualify, a single mother with two children earns $2,008 a month or less. The maximum benefit she could receive from TANF would be $292 a month. Approximately 300 Virginia families would be eligible for assistance if Senator Favola’s bill becomes law.
Senator Favola added, “Parents of these needy children are re-entering society and attempting to start a new life. This program is a critical part of a safety net that enables offenders to start over, and end the cycle of recidivism.”
If passed, families will be eligible to receive benefits provided the ex-offender complies with all obligations imposed by the court and the Department of Social Services, is actively engaged in or has completed substance abuse treatment and participates in quarterly drug screenings.