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SECOND LOOK | The Sentencing Reform Act

FedCURE:  Action Alerts 

29 January 2014


2014: LATEST BILL ~ Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013:   http://www.fedcure.org/documents/HR2642.shtml

OPPOSE:  HR 3102 ~ The Nutritution Relief and Work Opportunity Act 2013
2013 NEW BILL ~ HERE:   http://www.fedcure.org/HR3012.shtml

16 December 2013

113th Congress | Second Session | 09 September - 13 December 2013


Reauthorization of SNAP and Other Nutrition Programs in the Next Farm Bill:

Issues for the 113th Congress

Randy Alison Aussenberg  |  Analyst in Nutrition Assistance Policy 

10 December 2013

Congressional Research Service  |  7-5700  |  www.crs.gov  |  R43332  |  54 Pages.

Excerpts related to SNAP eligibility and disqualifications:

SNAP Eligibility: Other Disqualifications

In addition to work-related disqualifications, like the ABAWD time limit, Section 6 of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (codified at 7 U.S.C. 2015) provides causes for temporary or permanent disqualification from the SNAP program. The House and Senate conference proposals would add some additional disqualifications and amend some existing disqualifications. In addition to the discussion below, these disqualification provisions are summarized in Table A-5.

College Students, Lottery Winners

Under current law, for the most part, college students (attending higher education courses halftime or more) between ages 18 and 49 are ineligible for SNAP. A student enrolled in an institution of higher education more than half-time is only eligible for SNAP benefits if the individual meets at least one of the following criteria: (1) under 18 years old or age 50 or older; (2) disabled; (3) employed at least 20 hours per week or participating in a work-study program during the school year; (4) a parent (in some circumstances); /36  (5) receiving TANF cash assistance benefits; or (6) enrolled in school because of participation in certain programs. /37

Also under current law, there is no provision that specifically addresses lottery or gambling; however, the SNAP program's means tests would appear to limit the increase in income or wealth that would be associated with significant winnings. In several high-profile instances recently, SNAP participants won large sums in the lottery, and the state agency learned of their windfall from media reports.

House and Senate Proposals: Identical Changes for College Students' and Lottery Winners' Disqualification

Both conference proposals would make identical changes regarding post-secondary students and gambling winnings:

•Regarding post-secondary students, the bills would add the requirement that those students enrolled in post-secondary institutions as a requirement of participation in "SNAP Employment and Training," must be enrolled in certain employment-oriented training to qualify for SNAP; specifically, this would include certain career and technical education, remedial courses, basic adult education, literacy, or English as a second language.

•The bills would create more specific rules that would make households that receive "substantial lottery or gambling winnings" (as determined by USDA) ineligible for SNAP until the household meets the SNAP resources (assets) and income eligibility limits. State SNAP agencies would be required to establish agreements with the state gaming agency in order to make determinations of winnings. /38

Drug Testing

Under current law, SNAP applicants and participants can only be subjected to testing for controlled substances under certain state options. For example, a state may require a SNAP applicant to pass a drug test, if such a test is part of the state’s modification to the drug felony disqualification (see next section). /39

House Proposal: State Option to Offer Drug Testing Requirement /40

The House would propose to allow states to enact legislation authorizing drug testing for SNAP applicants. Such state policies would be implemented at full cost to the state.

Felony Convictions

Under current law, the only criminal convictions that can impact eligibility for SNAP benefits are drug felony offenses (with some states opting out of or modifying the drug felony disqualification).

House and Senate Proposals: Disqualification of Specified Ex-Offenders /40

Both the House and Senate conference proposals include provisions that would broaden the exoffender applicants that would be disqualified for SNAP. Both Section 4020 of the Senate and Section 4037 of House proposal would bar from receiving benefits individuals convicted of specified federal crimes (including murder, rape, certain crimes against children), and state offenses determined by the Attorney General to be substantially similar. /41

The amendment would still allow the disqualified ex-offender's household members to apply for and potentially receive benefits, but the household's benefit amount would likely be smaller than if the ex-offender was included. The amendments would require the state agency that administers SNAP benefits to collect, in writing, information on SNAP applicant's convictions.

The Senate and House proposals are identical in their language, except that the House includes an additional provision to assure that the policy would affect only those with convictions after the date of the provision's enactment. /42

SNAP Benefit Calculation

Becoming eligible for SNAP is only one part of the application process. Once deemed eligible, a household's benefits are calculated based on the household's size, income, and SNAP-deductible expenses. A household's net income is determined by subtracting from the household's gross income certain specified expenses and figures. In addition to a standard deduction (available to all households), there are deductions to account for the specific circumstances of a household.

Examples of SNAP deductions are the excess shelter deduction (a figure intended to account for variations in the cost of living) and for--households that include the elderly and disabled--an excess medical expenses deduction (a figure intended to account for variations in a household's health costs). Once eligible, 30% of the household's net income is subtracted from USDA's monthly maximum benefit (for household size) to determine the monthly benefit.

The conference proposals, for the most part, would maintain current federal law on SNAP benefit calculation; however, both bills would change the way the excess shelter deduction is calculated (specifically, the treatment of energy assistance payments). This is discussed in more detail in the next section.

The House conference proposal also included a specification for the excess medical expenses deduction.

This provision is not discussed below, but is included in a summary table of the SNAPbenefit calculation provisions, Table A-6.

36.  An otherwise ineligible student is eligible for SNAP if the student is (1) a single parent enrolled in school full-time caring for a dependent under the age of 12 years old, (2) a parent caring for a dependent under age 6, or (3) a parent caring for a child between the ages of 5 and 12 years old for whom child care is not available to enable the parent to both attend class and work 20 or more hours per week.

37.  A program under title I of the Workforce Investment Act, a SNAP Employment and Training program, a program under section 236 of the Trade Act of 1974, a work incentive program under title IV of the Social Security Act, or "another program for the purpose of employment and training operated by a state or local government, as determined to be appropriate by the Secretary."  7 U.S.C. 2015(e).

The Senate Committee's report from last Congress' bill S. 3240 (S.Rept. 112-203) cited a May 2011 lottery winner’s participation in SNAP, describing that, while the bill intends to prohibit such cases in the future, the Committee "does not intend to increase the administrative burden on states by instituting extensive oversight of private or charitable gaming activities, such as those that occur at senior centers, churches, private homes or other noncommercial gaming. Further, it is not the intent of the Committee that the Secretary be required to impose statutory requirements that may otherwise be waived under State option in this Act. The Committee encourages the Secretary to evaluate the criteria for substantial winnings in a manner that does not produce an outcome that increases poverty."

39.  According to USDA-FNS’s most recent state options report (August 2012), only Maryland, Minnesota, Wisconsin have a modified drug felon disqualification policy that requires drug testing for such felons.

40.  Drug-testing and crime-related restrictions in SNAP are discussed in CRS Report R42394, Drug Testing and Crime-Related Restrictions in TANF, SNAP, and Housing Assistance, by Maggie McCarty et al., pp. 10-15.

41.  For further discussion of these ex-offender disqualification proposals, including crimes specified, CRS has released a congressional memorandum. Congressional clients may request a copy from Randy Alison Aussenberg at raussenberg@crs.loc.gov or Richard M. Thompson II at rthompson@crs.loc.gov.

42.  In addition to their cost estimate of the Senate-reported bill, CBO composed an official cost estimate for the Senate floor amendment which added the ex-offender provision to the bill before it passed the Senate. See CBO website, http://cbo.gov/publication/44905. They estimate that the provision would reduce spending by as little as $21 million or as much as $185 million over 10 years (FY2014-2023), depending upon whether the provision is interpreted to apply to convictions that occurred before the change to SNAP eligibility law.

43.  For further details and analysis of this policy, please see CRS Report R42591, The Next Farm Bill: Changing the Treatment of LIHEAP Receipt in the Calculation of SNAP Benefits, by Randy Alison Aussenberg and Libby Perl.


Oppose Ban on Food Assistance for Convicted Individuals and their Families
Deadline 10 Sept. 2013 at 12 noon

Keep the conversation going ~ tweet: #Piss4Food

Dear Colleagues,

We encourage you to sign the attached letter to Senate and House Agriculture Committee leadership urging them to reject the harmful Vitter amendment to the Farm Bill, which would deny food assistance to people convicted of certain offenses and their families.

In recent months, Senator Vitter has offered a series of amendments that would deny public benefits to convicted individuals.  In May, the Senate accepted his amendment 1056 to the Farm Bill, S.954, denying SNAP benefits for life to people convicted of certain offenses.  Many of you joined us in sending 
a letter to Senate leaders urging them to reject this harmful amendment.  (A month later, the House adopted a similar amendment, which has thus far failed.) 

The Vitter amendment is odious for a number of reasons.  It's counterproductive because it makes it harder for formerly incarcerated individuals to safely reenter society.  It's mean-spirited, as it reduces food benefits for children and families in the households of such individuals.  Because it's retroactive, the Vitter amendment would deny food assistance to elderly individuals who long ago completed their prison sentences.  Disparities in the criminal justice system mean African Americans and Latinos would be disproportionately affected.

We've calculated that of the 1.6 million people in state or federal prison, about one in six were convicted of the offenses targeted by this amendments.  Over time, the ban would apply to well over a million people.  

With a Farm Bill conference expected soon, we encourage you to help us send a letter to Senate and House Agriculture Committee leadership urging them to reject the harmful Vitter amendment.  SignON Letter: 
To sign on, please e-mail Jeremy Haile at jhaile@sentencingproject.org or Mark O'Brien at mobrien@lac.org
DEADLINE: TOMORROW AT NOON (10 Sept. 2013) with the name of your organization as you'd like it to appear.

tweet: #Piss4Food 
09 September 2013

FedCURE's Chairman, Mark A. Varca, J.D., concurs with the Honorable Arthur L. Burnett, Sr., Vice President of Administration and National Executive Director of the National African American Drug Policy Coalition, Inc.  To wit:

In my capacity as Vice President of Administration and National Executive Director of the National African American Drug Policy Coalition, Inc., I have the authority to act on this matter for the organization. We strongly oppose the Vitter Amendment and sign on to the proposed letter to the Conference Committee anticipated for the following cogent reasons:
1. Such an amendment undermines the goals and objectives of the Second Chance Act as to re-entry programs and enabling individuals to readjust and lead law abiding lives upon being release from jails and prisons.
2. It jeopardizes public safety and increases the risk of recidivism out of desperation and hunger by the persons who will be deprived of these benefits and thus add to the costs of law enforcement activities and further incarceration.
3. It would have devastating consequences on children living in the households of such individuals who will be deprived of need nourishment, and visits the "sins" of the parents on the children, leaving them mal-nourished and in poorer health conditions, at increased costs to our healthcare system.
4. Such a law will increase the disparity impact of our laws on minorities and the poor who have obtained these criminal records because of how our law enforcement and criminal justice system have operated in the past, and thus it is totally counterproductive and detrimental to the welfare of our entire society.
To the extent your letter does not explicitly state these reasons, I have no objection to you incorporating them or adding them in further representations or communications to the anticipated Conference Committee.

Arthur L. Burnett, Sr.
Judge - Retired
National Executive Director
National African American Drug Policy Coalition, Inc.
Howard University School of Law
Holy Cross Hall - Rooms 412-414
2900 Van Ness Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
(202) 806-8622 or 806-8623
Mobile: (202) 577-8365 FAX: (202) 537-3806
E-mail addresses: Aburnettsr@aol.com  Albsr2alb@aol.com


113th Congress | First Session | 03 January 2013

||| FedCURE c2a |||

OPPOSE U.S. Rep's. Hudson, Reed and Scott's, mean spirited, Amendments, to the "Farm Bill" - H.R. 1947.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED ~ FARM BILL DEFEATED In the U.S. House in a 195-234 vote. BRAVO! Job Well Done.



20 June 2013/17:00
In a 195-234 vote, the FARM Bill #HR1947 was defeated in the House. BRAVO!
Just when we thought we were down after loosing on the Hudson and Reed Amendments, late last night, the entire bill has been defeated in the House.
HASH TAGS: #Piss4Food #foodstamps #farmbill #hr1947
Many kind thanks for all of your support. Job well done.

From POPVOX's Hill sources:

In the House:

The House started early and was on track to pass a Farm Bill, but in the final vote, the bill failed 195-234.

The bill was H.R. 1947, and included some reforms to U.S. farm policy. Nearly all the heated debate, however dealt with the food stamps program, and in fact roughly 80 percent of the bill deals with food stamps.

The legislation was always on shaky ground, as it cut $20 billion from food stamps, which most Democrats opposed. Democrats also opposed language added at the last minute that would let states tie food stamp benefits to work requirements.

At the same time, many Republicans felt more cuts were needed, as the overall expense of the bill was nearly 60 percent higher than the last farm bill in 2008. The cost increase reflected additional food stamp spending, some of which was provided by the 2009 stimulus bill.

In the end, just 24 Democrats voted for it, while House Leadership had expected 40 Democrats to support the bill. More importantly, 62 Republicans voted against it, making it impossible to overcome the weight of opposition on both sides.

It's not clear what's next, but a temporary patch may be needed. The Senate has already passed a farm bill that spends a bit more than the House proposal.




OPPOSE U.S. Rep's. Hudson, Reed and Scott's, mean spirited, Amendments, to the "Farm Bill" - H.R. 1947.

Piss-4-Food is just plain WRONG!


Call the Capital Switchboard to talk to your Congressperson: 1.888.891.3271 .

Tell your Congressperson to OPPOSE U.S. Rep's. Hudson, Reed and Scott's, mean spirited, Amendments to the "Farm Bill"

H.R. 1947 - Bans food assistance to certain offenders.

tweet:  #Piss4Food

ORGANIZATIONS ~ Please SignOn:  Deadline, Today, Thursday, June 20, at 12 pm

To SignOn, please forward this message and name of your organization to:

Grant Smith: gsmith@drugpolicy.org

Mark O'Brien:  mobrien@lac.org

Jeremy Haile: jhaile@sentencingproject.org

OPPOSE:  Cuts in the House bill "particularly to the federal food stamp program" have drawn complaints from Democrats.  Many Republicans believe the bill still spends too much, making it unclear whether it can survive in the House.  However, the Amendments below, if passed, will be a huge social disruption and have a negative impact on the people who need the assistance the most, which will only increase recidivism rates.  The only ones who win here are the people who own the drug testing enterprises:  "PISS-4-FOOD."

ALL, Please  OPPOSE the Amendments, to the "Farm Bill" - H.R. 1947:



    Drug testing food stamp recipients (Rep. Hudson ? Amendment No. 46):  Would allow states to begin drug testing persons who apply or receive SNAP benefits (food stamps).  The courts, for good cause, have prevented sates from imposing drug testing, but Amendment No. 46 would override the courts ban.

    Require states to deny TANF for drug felonies (Rep. Scott - Amendment No. 131):  Would repeal a long standing federal law that has allowed states to opt-out of federal ban on the provision of both TANF and SNAP to persons with a drug felony conviction on their record (traditionally, the states have opted-out of the federal ban to deny assistance to persons with a drug felony conviction.. Evidence gathered under the gold standard shows that drug felons are among the most in need of food assistance).

These amendments must still be approved by the House Rules committee, so it is important you take action in opposition, today.


tweet: #Piss4Food

Over-criminalization is an issue of liberty.
As federal criminal laws and regulations have increased, so has the number of Americans who have found themselves breaking the law with no intent of doing so.
Americans who make innocent mistakes should not be charged with criminal offenses.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)
Over-Criminalization [bi-partisan] Task Force of 2013

BARBER AMENDMENT IS CURE ~ Dangerously Over Crowded Federal Prison System
Despite a ten year build out, increased double bunking and triple bunking, since 2003, the overcrowding rate hovers at 38%. The federal prison population was 165,000 in January 2003. May 2013, it is hovering at 218,500. America cannot build its way out of crowding. BARBER to S.619 and H.R.1695, retroactively, is CURE.




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