A bill that would relax the restrictions against Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits for those convicted of felony drug offenses generated plenty of debate among Nebraska lawmakers, some of it very heated Wednesday and Thursday.
LB 169 would allow SNAP benefits for those with three or more felony convictions for controlled substance use or possession if they were participating in, or had completed, a substance abuse program. It would also remove all program restrictions on those with one or two such convictions.
Senator Mike Groene of North Platte led a three-hour filibuster of the measure, saying the issue needs to sit a few days for more discussion off the legislative floor. “We need to throw in an amendment or two and see if it will work. We all want people to improve their lives, we all want people to have a second chance,” says Groene. “But giving them a second chance without effort, to enable people; Al-Anon, they’re biggest thing is do not enable, don’t love somebody so much you help them in their addiction. That’s what this bill as written does.”
Debate on the bill ended without a vote, however, sponsor Megan Hunt of Omaha has named the measure her priority for the session, guaranteeing it will come up again for first round consideration.