Policy Update

The Indiana General Assembly is back in action. Two bills that would expand access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) received hearings in the Senate Committee on Family and Children’s Services on Monday, January 23rd. The first, SB 9, would eliminate the lifetime ineligibility of individuals who have served time for a felony drug conviction. It passed out of the committee 8-1.

The second bill, SB 154, would remove one of the two tests of eligibility for SNAP access – an asset test that requires households to have less than $2,250 in countable resources to be eligible. Kathleen Lara, Policy Director at Prosperity Indiana, testified in support of the bill, noting that one of the unintended consequences of the asset test is that families receiving or considering receiving benefits might choose not to participate in mainstream financial products, like checking and savings accounts. Removal of the asset test in other states has resulted in increased bank account ownership among SNAP households and increases in average savings amounts in those accounts.

Jessica Fraser from the Indiana Institute for Working Families also testified in support of the bill, noting that the policy can also result in denials due to burdensome documentation requirements or due to intake errors in valuing certain resources. Prosperity Indiana and the Indiana Institute for Working Families were among the many organizations supporting these bills.

Your voice is still important on both bills:

  • On SB 9, make sure your senator knows that you support this bill and to vote “yes” when it comes up on third reading. Find your legislator here.
  • On SB 154, call Senator Grooms, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Family and Children’s Services, at 317-234-9425 and ask him to hold a vote on SB 154. Without a vote, the bill will die in committee.

We also need your voice on SB 254, another attempt by payday lenders to expand their product offerings in the state. The new bill allows payday lenders to offer an installment loan of up to $2,500 over 24 months at 240% APR. This would amount to over $9,500 in interest on a $2,500/24 month loan. Our current cap on small installment loans in the state is 36%. Last year, the Indiana General Assembly pledged to study the issue of high-cost lending further.

  • On SB 254, call 317-232-9807 and ask Senator Holdman, Chairperson of the Insurance & Financial Institutions Committee, to hold the bill until the issue of high-cost lending has been thoroughly studied, as proposed by the legislature in 2016.