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Sisolak slams Trump administration’s SNAP decision

CARSON CITY — The Trump administration’s move to toughen work requirements for getting food stamps could cut aid to some 80,000 low-income Nevadans, a move Gov. Steve Sisolak denounced as “unconscionable” on Friday.

The move is part of a series of changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as “SNAP.”

More than 400,000 Nevadans receive SNAP assistance. One rule change, announced Wednesday, limits states’ ability to exempt able-bodied single adults from having to obtain employment to receive SNAP benefits.

Under current rules, adults 18 to 49 with no dependents can receive only three months of SNAP benefits in a three-year period if they don’t work 20 hours a week. States with high unemployment or lack of available jobs can waive those time limits. The change means that states can’t issue those waivers unless unemployment in an area is 6 percent or higher.

Nevada has received a waiver from January through March that covers all but Washoe County. If future waivers are denied more than 32,000 individuals will lose SNAP after three months, the state Department of Health and Human Services said Friday.

A second proposed change would eliminate a program under which some recipients automatically qualified for food stamps. It would do away with the Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility policy and impose an assets test on applicants previously approved under it.

The state Division of Welfare and Supportive Services estimates about 46,000 SNAP recipients would lose eligibility with 7,415 children on the National School Lunch Program affected.

The changes “will have devastating impacts to low-income Nevadans who make up our most vulnerable citizens – including families, children, and veterans,” Sisolak said in a statement.

A third proposed change would rewrite how utility expenses are factored into benefits, potentially increasing the standard allowance for utilities more than 4 percent. Nevada’s average SNAP benefit of $220 per household could increase by $9.44 if the change is approved. Currently 117,968 out of 221,272 SNAP households qualify and receive the standard allowance, according to the state.

Nationwide, the changes could impact some 2.2 million households and 3.7 million individual beneficiaries, according to a November estimate by the Urban Institute.

Contact Bill Dentzer at bdentzer@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-0661. Follow @DentzerNews on Twitter.

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