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Old 02-20-2004, 08:16 AM
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Default drug offenders & food stamps - new legislation...

Wash. Bill Would Provide Food Stamps to Drug Felons

A measure under consideration in the Washington legislature would override federal law and allow drug felons in the state to receive food stamps, the Spokane Spokesman-Review reported Feb. 9.

As a result of the 1996 welfare-reform bill passed by the U.S. Congress, individuals convicted of a drug felony are banned for life from receiving food stamps.

"You can be a child molester, a murderer, a rapist, or a terrorist and still qualify for food stamps when released, but you can't be a drug felon," said Linda Stone, Eastern Washington director of the Children's Alliance, an advocacy group. "It's appalling that this group of people have been singled out and denied a basic benefit to get back on their feet."

Under the federal law, states have the choice of opting out of the ban. Washington lawmakers have twice tried to overturn the ban, but were unsuccessful. The bill died again this year as well.

However, a group of conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats have resurrected the measure and are pushing it through the Washington Senate.

"Instead of looking at it as a giveaway, look at what happens if they don't get fed," said Rep. Eric Pettigrew (D-Seattle), the author of the state House of Representatives version. "We can lock people up. Punishment is appropriate. But once they get out of prison, if they can't feed their families, we're kind of sending them down the same path."
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