- Associated Press - Thursday, April 14, 2016

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Lawmakers in the Louisiana House want more of a say in whether food stamp recipients should have to work to get federal assistance.

The House voted 56-28 Thursday for a proposal by Rep. Jay Morris, R-Monroe, that would require legislative approval to seek a federal waiver of the work requirements for able-bodied, childless adults who receive food stamps.

Supporters of Morris’ bill say they want to encourage people to work and to use food stamps as short-term assistance.

“This bill is not harsh. It is not mean-spirited,” Morris said.

Opponents say work requirements could strip needed food aid from struggling people in a state facing an economic downturn.



“I think sometimes we focus on the 10 percent who abuse the system rather than on the people who need assistance,” said Rep. Malinda White, D-Bogalusa.

For 19 years, Louisiana has had a federal waiver of a requirement that childless adults ages 18 to 49 work 20 hours per week or be enrolled in a job training program to receive the food aid.

Gov. John Bel Edwards got federal approval to keep the work requirements from taking effect earlier this year, saying he first wants to bolster job training and placement services before the requirements begin. His administration says it’s working on an executive order aimed at making changes to Louisiana’s food stamp program.

Morris’ bill goes next to the Senate. The governor’s office has said it has concerns about the proposal.

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Online:

House Bill 594: www.legis.la.gov

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