Legislation passed by Tennessee Senate prohibits drug felons who do not seek treatment from receiving welfare benefits

(NASHVILLE, TN), April 26, 2011 — The Tennessee Senate has approved legislation that prohibits an individual convicted of a felony for possession, use, or distribution of a controlled substance from being eligible to receive Families First program benefits.  The bill, sponsored by Senator Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville), would apply to welfare recipients convicted on or after July 1, 2011 and would extend for a period of three years unless the individual receives treatment for substance abuse.

Families First is Tennessee’s welfare reform program, which began in September 1996 under a federal waiver, and which replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program.  Benefits to children would not be affected under provisions of the bill.

“It is not fair for hardworking taxpayers to subsidize welfare payments for those who have been convicted of felony drug charges,” said Senator Tracy.  “This bill gives these individuals notice that our charity is extended as long as they enroll and successfully complete treatment.  The bill, however, puts a stop to endless payments to those who continue to ignore our drug laws and who continue to abuse the system for public assistance.”

The legislation, Senate Bill 96, is sponsored in the House of Representatives by Representative Joe Carr (R-Lascassas).  The bill will be considered on final consideration in the House on Thursday.

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