HB 957 — Food Stamp Program – Time Limit Waiver - Prohibition

Committee: House Appropriations

Position: Oppose 

The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch)dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington.

Currently, a state is able to apply for and subsequently implement a federal waiver of the time limit on the receipt of benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by an able-bodied adult without dependents (ABAWD) who does not meet specified work requirements. House Bill 957 would eliminate the waiver option for Maryland, which would mean that ABAWD would only be able to receive SNAP benefits for a three-month period over three years.

The Catholic Church has a strong interest in alleviating poverty. Pope Francis stated that “[a] way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth, and not simply to close the gap between the affluent and those who must be satisfied with the crumbs falling from the table, but above all to satisfy the demands of justice, fairness and respect for every human being.” Enabling all people to be able to put food on the table and not worry where their next meal is coming from is an integral part of helping to end cycles of poverty that can permeate entire families.

One’s right to work is also a strong tenant of the Catholic faith. However, a component of that is access to adequate and life-sustaining employment, a truth that is not always achievable in many communities across the state. There are significant factors that play into the achievability of such employment, including the number of available jobs, reliable transportation, and salary and wage levels in nearby industries. Further, the average benefit received under SNAP is $121 a month, hardly a substantial amount to supplement a person’s income and lift them completely out of poverty.

The Conference appreciates your consideration, for these reasons, respectfully requests an unfavorable report on House Bill 957.