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Bill on food stamps for drug offenders clears Indiana Senate

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INDIANAPOLIS — People with felony drug convictions could be eligible for food stamps in Indiana under a bill approved by the state Senate.

The state would join more than 30 others in modifying or opting out of federal provisions that deny Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to convicted drug felons.

Current Indiana statute allows some drug offenders to receive SNAP, but Senate Bill 9 authored by Sen. Jim Merritt would open it to a larger number of people.

The bill’s author says drug addiction is an illness, not a character flaw. People convicted of other felonies do not face a similar ban.

Senators voted 34-16 to send the measure to the full House.

Benefits would be available to offenders who completed probation, parole or another post-conviction monitoring program. They also must comply with conditions of parole.

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