STATE OF NEW JERSEY
INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 4, 2016
Senator ROBERT M. GORDON
District 38 (Bergen and Passaic)
Senator JOSEPH F. VITALE
District 19 (Middlesex)
Senator JIM WHELAN
District 2 (Atlantic)
Assemblywoman VALERIE VAINIERI HUTTLE
District 37 (Bergen)
Assemblyman BENJIE E. WIMBERLY
District 35 (Bergen and Passaic)
Senators Allen, Beck and Assemblywoman Jasey
Urges federal Food and Nutrition Service to relax certain time limits in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program under certain circumstances.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
A Concurrent Resolution respectfully urging federal Food and Nutrition Service to relax time limits in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Whereas, The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also called SNAP or Food Stamps, provides essential assistance to needy households in affording nutritious food; and
Whereas, Current federal regulations establish a time limit of three months of SNAP eligibility during any three-year period for so-called able-bodied adults without dependent children if they are unable to find work; and
Whereas, Federal regulations also allow the State to seek a waiver of this penalty for either the entire State or any area within the State if there is exceptionally high unemployment in the area or a lack of sufficient jobs to provide employment for the individuals who would otherwise be subject to the time limit; and
Whereas, New Jersey had consistently requested and been granted such waivers since the beginning of the Great Recession, ensuring continuity of nutrition assistance for those New Jersey residents unable to find work; and
Whereas, The Christie administration indicated it planned to continue these waivers in 2016 for the 15 counties with the highest levels of unemployment in the State, but abruptly decided against seeking any waivers at the end of 2015; and
Whereas, Without such waivers, an estimated 11,000 New Jersey residents will begin losing their SNAP benefits, thereby damaging their food security and placing additional strain on New Jersey’s charitable food programs; and
Whereas, The communities adversely affected by the administration’s decision currently have no ability to seek waivers on their own authority; and
Whereas, An adjustment to federal policy to allow economically struggling counties and municipalities to seek waivers would allow these communities to improve the well-being of their residents when the State fails to do so; and
Whereas, In the absence of a waiver, extending the time limit from three months to six months would permit those individuals whose benefits are endangered by the time limit a greater opportunity to find work and meet program requirements; now, therefore,
Be It Resolved by the Senate of the State of New Jersey (the General Assembly concurring):
1. The Food and Nutrition Service in the United States Department of Agriculture is respectfully urged to amend its regulations concerning waivers of time limits for Supplemental nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to allow county and municipal governments to apply for waivers on their own authority, and to grant such waivers when consistent with other applicable regulations.
The Food and Nutrition Service is further urged to amend its current three month time limit for SNAP eligibility to six months, in order to allow SNAP recipients sufficient time to find work and thereby comply with program rules.
2. Copies of this resolution, as filed with the Secretary of State, shall be transmitted by the Clerk of the General Assembly or the Secretary of the Senate to the United States Secretary of Agriculture and the Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services.
This concurrent resolution respectfully urges the Food and Nutrition Service in the U.S. Department of Agriculture to permit counties and municipalities to apply for waivers of certain time limits applicable within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also called Food Stamps).
Current federal regulations establish a time limit of three months of SNAP eligibility during any three-year period for so-called able-bodied adults without dependent children if they are unable to find work. However, the State is authorized to seek a waiver of this provision for the entire State or any area within the State if there is exceptionally high unemployment in the area or a lack of sufficient jobs to provide employment for the individuals who would otherwise be subject to the time limit. New Jersey had been granted such waivers for several years since the beginning of the Great Recession, but the Christie administration abruptly decided not to extend any waivers in 2016. This resolution urges the federal government to allow local governments to seek waivers on behalf of their residents when the State fails to do so.
In addition, this resolution urges the federal government to extend the SNAP eligibility time limit from three months to six months, in order to allow SNAP recipients sufficient time to find work and thereby comply with program rules.