It’s been just about a week since legislators wrapped up the session and left Governor Pat McCrory to decide which bills he will sign into law and which he will veto.
One of the most controversial bills remaining on his desk is House Bill 318, the Protect North Carolina Workers Act.
As Rob Schofield explains in his latest Weekly Briefing, HB 318 might be one of the most “spiteful and contemptuous” bills of the session for how it treats jobless adults who are down-on-their luck:
…consider the following amazing facts about the legislation in question:
- Under current federal law (something that is, itself, an outrageously stingy component of mid-1990’s “welfare reform”), so-called “able-bodied” adults between 18 and 50 without children can only receive SNAP benefits (aka Food Stamps) for 90 days unless they are working at least 20 hours per week or are participating in a qualified work training program.
- The federal law does, however, wisely allow an exception in places in which states request a waiver of the requirement because of lack of available jobs.
- In North Carolina, where large swaths of the state remain mired in Great Recession level unemployment, the Department of Health and Human Services has applied for and received several such waivers — the most recent of which was submitted in July of this year for 77 counties.
- The bill in question, which currently sits on Governor McCrory’s desk awaiting action, would forbid DHHS from seeking any such waivers in the future.
- If fully signed into law, as many as 105,000 people would see their benefits cut off.
- These benefits provide an average of something on the order of $30 per week in food assistance – all of which is paid by the federal government.
In other words, if the bill is approved by the Governor, North Carolina could cut off food assistance to as many as 105,000 people in the 77 hardest hit counties of the nation’s fifth hungriest state. The new rule would go into effect next year. (It should be noted that the same bill (House Bill 318) also includes highly controversial and destructive changes that would limit the ability of local governments to accept and make use of foreign identification cards – something that’s especially useful for local law enforcement officers in communities with significant undocumented populations.)
The bill has also won the disapproval of the the head of the NC Association of Food Banks. Click below to hear Alan Briggs discuss HB 318, or listen to the full radio interview on the main Policy Watch website. (And be sure to read Rob Schofield’s full column here.)