Governor Mary Fallin signed a bill re-imposing a work requirement for able-bodied food stamp recipients.
House Bill 1909 was authored by House Speaker T.W. Shanon and requires able able-bodied individuals, ages 18 to 50 who are not disabled or raising a child, to perform at least 20 hours of work activities as a condition of receiving food stamps. These work requirements come from the 1996 Welfare Reform Law. Currently, able-bodied individuals do not have to fulfill work requirements due to waivers handed out by the federal government. This bill will prohibit DHS from seeking those work requirement waivers.
“Unfortunately, some believe compassion is measured by how many people you can keep on a government aid program,” said Speaker Shannon, R-Lawton. “We must change the paradigm to how many people we can get off government assistance. We must encourage able-bodied people to break their addiction to government subsidies and gain self-sufficiency. Through personal responsibility, hard work and a drive to better one’s situation, people can establish their independence and begin down the road of prosperity.”
Under federal law, unemployed individuals are able to receive food stamps for up to 90 days. After 90 days, these able-bodied persons must fulfill the 20 hour work requirement to continue to receive food stamp benefits.
"We want to encourage a culture of responsibility here in Oklahoma," said Joe Griffin, spokesman for Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon. "We want people to break the cycle of poverty and move on to prosperity."
“Oklahoma has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation,” said Speaker Shannon. “That is because we believe the best social program is legitimate work and a paycheck.”
HB 1909 will go into effect November 1 of this year.
The average number of people receiving food stamps in Oklahoma in 2012 was 614,947. With the population 2012 estimated by the US Census Bureau at 3,814,820, about 16% of the population is currently receiving food stamps.