Proposed Law Would Lift Ban on TANF Funds for Drug Felons in Del - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Proposed Law Would Lift Ban on TANF Funds for Drug Felons in Delaware

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DOVER, Del. -- A bill introduced this legislative session in the General Assembly would lift a ban on convicted drug felons from receiving a source of funding available to needy families.

The legislation would allow people who have been convicted of felony drug crimes to receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Family funds, so long as they are otherwise eligible. The program is aimed at providing temporary financial support to impoverished families to help pay for things like utility bills or groceries while they stabilize their financial situation with employment.

Rep. David Bentz (D-Whethersfield) said the bill is aimed at lifting a barrier that makes it difficult for families after a person returns from prison after a drug felony.

"They're the only people group of people who are subject to this ban. People who are released from prison after a violent felony do not face the same ban," he said.

Tasha Scott, a case manager at the Shepherd Place in Dover, said many of the people and homeless families who use the shelter receive TANF funding, though some of their clients are unable to do so because of previous drug felonies.

Difficulties in saving money is one of the major reasons why some stays expected to last only a month at the Shepherd Place become as long as three months, Scott said. She thinks lifting the ban would help some families regain their independence faster.

"To be penalized for a lifetime for a moment, I don't think is fair," she said.

A similar bill was passed in unanimously in the House, though it was not voted on by the Senate before the legislative session ended.

Rep. Jeff Spiegelman (R-Clayton) said he will likely vote for the bill but noted that there are always concerns about public funds being misused.

"It was on my mind when I voted for the bill but it was not enough to make me vote no on the bill," he said.

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