Senate Passes Herron’s Bill Regulating Welfare Benefits for Felons

Press Release from Sen. Roy Herron; April 26, 2011:

DRESDEN – The state Senate passed Monday a bill co-sponsored by State Senator Roy Herron to require greater oversight of federal welfare benefits for those convicted of a felony drug charge.

“Tennesseans deserve to know that their lawmakers are being good stewards of their funds,” Herron said. “This bill ensures that we are not subsidizing drug dealers with taxpayer money.”

Senate Bill 96 would ban any individual convicted of a felony drug charge, beginning in July, from receiving Families First assistance for five years from the conviction date. The individual would remain eligible as long as he or she complied with all court obligations and entered a drug treatment program if ordered.

Under the bill, an individual convicted of multiple drug felonies beginning in July would be banned from receiving Families First assistance for three years. Any money saved as a result of the bill would go to serve a greater number of eligible, law-abiding recipients.

“We have an obligation to hold every dollar accountable, especially during tough times like now,” Herron said. “These funds are a privilege, not a right, and we need to treat them as such.”

The bill passed 32-0 in the Senate Monday evening. The House vote on the bill is scheduled for Thursday.