Sen. Stoops has introduced SB 549 which would expand access to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) (formerly “food stamps,” I believe) by expanding categorical eligibility without respect to assets. My understanding of this process — which is laughably limited — is that there are people who are eligible for SNAP assistance by virtue of being participants in certain programs (TANF for example). The eligibility for the other program is a proxy for neediness; or perhaps the policy decision has been made that government should support the effectiveness of one program by buttressing it with the other. If the SNAP applicant is a participant in one of these other programs, they are categorically eligible and do not need to particularly demonstrate that their income is below a certain threshold ordinarily necessary to be eligible for SNAP assistance.
Anyway, I guess federal law allows states to expand categorical eligibility. I believe this paper out of Ohio is on point:
The federal food stamp regulations provide some options to states with respect to expanding categorical eligibility for assistance groups who are receiving or authorized to receive TANF or MOE funded benefits and services. States have the authority to determine which of the TANF or MOE funded programs or services are of benefit to the entire household and therefore confer categorical eligibility. States also have the option to determine whether TANF or MOE-funded services that meet TANF purposes 3 or 4 (as long as there is an income eligibility limit up to 200% of the federal poverty level) will confer categorical eligibility to the entire assistance group.
I guess I’d be a little surprised if this General Assembly showed a great deal of interest in expanding the social safety net. There isn’t a fiscal note ready at this point. I suppose there is probably a saving grace in that a lot of the new people who would be categorically eligible would have met the income limitations anyway, and this just streamlines the process.