Welfare Change Passes Senate

Those convicted of felony drug possession would be allowed to receive more welfare benefits under legislation the Senate narrowly has passed.

The Senate voted 23-17 Friday to pass Democratic Senator Linda "Toddy" Puller's bill. It would restore Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, benefits to about 140 Virginians who have been convicted of felony drug possession. TANF funds go to low-income families with children.

In 1996 the federal government enacted a lifetime ban on TANF and food stamp benefits for those convicted of a drug felony. More than a dozen states, including Virginia, stuck to those guidelines, while other states opted to extend the assistance to drug felons.

Virginia restored food stamp benefits to drug felons in 2005.

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