No work, no food stamps if lawmakers agree
BATON ROUGE- Able-bodied adults without dependents who don't have jobs (ABAWDs) are not supposed to receive food stamps long-term according to federal rules. However, Louisiana's governor can request the rule be waived because the state has a higher than average unemployment rate.
For the better part of a decade, Louisiana has taken advantage of the waiver to the benefit of about 30,000 ABAWDs. However, Rep. Jay Morris (R- Monroe) wants lawmakers to also have a say.
Morris' bill would require the legislature to also approve the waiver request, something conservative lawmakers might be inclined to deny.
According to the bill he filed in the 2018 Regular Session, the state should "encourage self-sufficiency so that Louisianians may reduce dependence on public benefits."
WBRZ did make multiple requests Monday for an interview, asking Morris to step out of the House of Representatives for a few questions about the bill. However, Morris never agreed.
Some lawmakers have issues with the legislation, like Representative Pat Smith (D-Baton Rouge).
"We're trying to reduce our prison population, and many of those individuals, male or female, who are getting out of prison really have difficulty finding a job and a place to stay," Smith said. "If you take the food stamps away, they have no way to eat."
Under federal rules, ABAWD's can keep their food stamp benefits if they work, train for a job, or volunteer 20 hours a week.