SENATE, No. 993

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 4, 2016

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator† JOSEPH F. VITALE

District 19 (Middlesex)

Senator† NELLIE POU

District 35 (Bergen and Passaic)

Senator† ROBERT M. GORDON

District 38 (Bergen and Passaic)

Assemblyman† BENJIE E. WIMBERLY

District 35 (Bergen and Passaic)

Assemblywoman† VALERIE VAINIERI HUTTLE

District 37 (Bergen)

Assemblywoman† SHAVONDA E. SUMTER

District 35 (Bergen and Passaic)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Senators Madden, Whelan, Allen, Beck, Lesniak, Assemblywoman Jasey, Senators Cunningham and Ruiz

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

†††† Requires DHS to request waiver of time limits for certain Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients under certain circumstances.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

†††† As introduced.

††


An Act concerning eligibility for benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and supplementing Title 44 of the Revised Statutes.

 

†††† Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

†††† 1.††† Immediately upon enactment of this act and at least once annually thereafter, the Commissioner of Human Services shall conduct a review of available data on labor and employment in the State produced by Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.† The purpose of the review shall be to determine whether participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program may be eligible for a waiver of the benefit time limit for able bodied adults without dependents as authorized by 7 C.F.R. 273.24(f), either throughout the State or in any geographic area of the State.† The review shall consider each criterion of eligibility for a waiver, including the unemployment rate in the State and in each area in the State, as well as indicators of a lack of sufficient jobs to provide employment as described in 7 C.F.R. 273.24(f)(2)(ii).† If the commissionerís review finds that a waiver is likely to be approved for the State or any area of the State, the commissioner shall submit a request for waiver.†

 

†††† 2.††† a. †The Commissioner of Human Services shall issue a report no later than one month following the effective date of this act, and monthly thereafter, to the Governor and, pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1), to the Legislature on:

†††† (1)†† the number of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants in each county who are subject to the benefit time limit for able bodied adults without dependents;

†††† (2)†† the number of participants whose benefits are in danger of being terminated within the next month due to the benefits time limit; and

†††† (3)†† the number of participants whose benefits were terminated in the past month as a result of the benefit time limit.

†††† b.††† Beginning with the first report and at least once annually thereafter, the report shall also describe the review of labor and employment data conducted pursuant to section 1 of this act and any actions taken by the commissioner related to requesting a waiver of the time limit.† If any area of the State is not covered by a requested waiver, the report shall describe the commissionerís reasons for not submitting a waiver request.

 

†††† 3.††† This act shall take effect immediately.

STATEMENT

 

†††† This bill would require that, immediately upon enactment of the bill and at least once annually, the Commissioner of Human Services must conduct a review of available data on labor and employment in the State to determine whether participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps) may be eligible for a waiver of the benefit time limit for able bodied adults without dependents.† If the review finds that a waiver is likely to be approved for the State or any area of the State, the commissioner must submit a request for waiver.† Press reports have indicated that the Department of Human Services had intended to apply for waivers for 15 counties (Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Mercer, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, and Union) but declined to submit the waiver requests, allowing their waivers to expire effective January 1, 2016.† It is the sponsorís intent that these waiver requests be submitted immediately.

†††† The bill also requires the commissioner to submit monthly reports to the Governor and Legislature on: (1) the number of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants in each county who are subject to the benefit time limit for able bodied adults without dependents; (2) the number of participants whose benefits are in danger of being terminated within the next month due to the benefits time limit; and (3) the number of participants whose benefits were terminated in the past month as a result of the benefit time limit.† Beginning with the first report and at least once annually thereafter, the report would also describe the review of labor and employment data and any actions taken by the commissioner related to requesting a waiver of the time limit.† If any area of the State is not covered by a requested waiver, the report would describe the commissionerís reasons for not submitting a waiver request.

†††† Federal regulations provide that, in general, able-bodied adults without dependents are subject to a time limit for SNAP benefits of three months in a 36 month period unless they work at least 20 hours per week.† However, states are permitted to seek a waiver of the three-month time limit if the unemployment rate in the state or an area of the state is greater than 10 percent, or if there is a lack of sufficient jobs to provide employment.† New Jersey had applied for and been granted such waivers from 2009 to 2015, but did not to seek any waiver for 2016.† Many economically struggling counties and municipalities in New Jersey likely could have been approved for waivers.† It has been estimated that the restoration of the time limit will result in approximately 11,000 New Jersey residents losing their SNAP benefits.