2002 No Action
2001 No Action
2000 No Action
1998 No Action
1995 No Action
July 18, 2000
TO THE HONORABLE, THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
In accordance with the provisions of R.I. Gen. Laws § 43-1-4, I am transmitting herewith, with my disapproval, OO-H-7136, "An Act Relating to Public Assistance."
This bill would eliminate the lifetime exclusion of individuals convicted of certain drug-related felonies from the Food Stamp program and the Family Independence program.
One of the provisions of the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) (Public Law No. 104-193) forced states to impose, or to affirmatively opt out of, the imposition of a ban to prohibit drug convicted felons from receiving cash and food stamp benefits. The federal policy clearly supported barring drug convicted felons from receiving public benefits. For the families, success in this program requires hard work and commitment; drug use guarantees failure.
Rhode Island enacted a ban on drug convicted felons precluding them from cash and food stamp benefits if the offense which is classified as a felony by the law of the jurisdiction involved and which has as an element me distribution or sale of a controlled substance (as defined in section 102(6) of the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. 802(6)) (R.I. Gen. Laws § 40-6-8 and R.I. Gen. Laws § 40-5.1-8).
The Rhode Island legislation that enacted this bar to the receipt of cash and food stamp benefits against the specified classification of drug-related felony was endorsed strongly by the legislative and executive branches of government. The Federal Welfare Reform legislation (PRWORA) became effective on August 22, 1996, and the Rhode Island Family Independence Act took effect on May 1, 1997.
The decision to bar drug convicted felons from the receipt of public benefits was the right policy decision in 1996 when it was supported by the federal government, the Rhode Island General Assembly and this Administration. We should not reward drug convicted felons with benefits, nor should we expect that drug use will not hamper welfare reform.
For the foregoing reasons, I disapprove of this legislation and respectfully urge your support of this veto.