UPDATE: Gov. Jim Justice signs bill requiring work for some food stamp recipients

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CHARLESTON, W.VA. - UPDATE: 3/27/2018

On Tuesday, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill to impose the federal 20-hour weekly work requirement for food stamp recipients who meet certain criteria.

The work requirement only applies to West Virginia residents ages 18 to 49 who are not pregnant, are not disabled or military veterans, have no dependents, and receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program food stamp benefits.

Currently, 46 of West Virginia's 55 counties have the work requirement waivers.

Advocates say it will help eliminate fraud and get people back to work.

Opponents say it will push struggling people out of the food stamps program, cut federal funding and grocery spending in West Virginia and increase food pantry demand.

On Oct. 1, requirement waivers would be sought only in counties with 12-month average unemployment rate above 10 percent. All counties would become ineligible three years later.


UPDATE: 3/9/2018

The West Virginia Senate has voted 27-6 to impose the federal 20-hour weekly work requirement for many food stamp recipients statewide.

It would apply to people ages 18 to 49 who aren't pregnant, disabled or military veterans, have no dependent children and get Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

Currently, 46 of West Virginia's 55 counties have waivers from the work requirement.

Advocates say it will help eliminate fraud and get people back to work, even if only volunteer work.

The bill previously passed the House 78-19.

Opponents say it will push struggling poor people out of the food stamps program, cut federal funding and grocery spending in West Virginia and increase demand on its food pantries.

They say that was the main effect of a nine-county pilot program.


ORIGINAL STORY: 2/20/2018

The West Virginia House has voted 78-19 to impose the federal 20-hour weekly work requirement for many food stamp recipients statewide.

It would apply to people ages 18 to 49 who aren't disabled or military veterans, have no dependent children and get Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

A provision was removed by the Judiciary Committee that also would have subjected food stamp applicants and everyone in their households to an asset test to determine whether they are poor enough to qualify.

Currently 46 of 55 counties have waivers from the requirement.

Advocates say it will eliminate fraud and get people back to work, even if only volunteer work.

Opponents say it will push struggling poor people out of the program, cut federal funding to West Virginia and increase demand on food pantries.