Senate wants South Dakota drug felons to become eligible for TANF aid

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Senators voted 28-6 Wednesday to lift South Dakota’s ban that prohibits criminals convicted of drug felonies from receiving benefits from the state Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program.

SB 96 heads next to the state House of Representatives. Senator Reynold Nesiba, a Sioux Falls Democrat, sponsored it. He said the Legislative Research Council estimated the cost at about $35,000 more per year in state and federal funds.

The ban applies to people convicted of possession, use, or distribution of a controlled substance. Nesiba said it was “a huge barrier” for convicted parents trying to return to their families.

Less than 10 states still have the bans that Congress imposed at the suggestion of President Bill Clinton more than two decades ago.

Nesiba said it would work with Republican Governor Kristi Noem’s anti-methamphetamine campaign.

Senator Lee Schoenbeck, a Watertown Republican, agreed with Nesiba.

“As a fiscal conservative, we should all be for it,” Schoenbeck said. “At every level this makes financial sense for the state of South Dakota.”

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