Eighty-eight people in Georgia are facing federal charges in an alleged food stamp scheme. 54 of those individuals are charged with setting up fake grocery stores in Atlanta, Savannah, Macon and other Georgia cities to buy food stamps for cash. U.S. Attorney Edward Tarver announced the charges Tuesday. In a conference call, he explained how the scheme worked. “The benefits would be purchased for pennies on the dollar, and then they would turn around and redeem those benefits for the full value to the federal government,” said Tarver.
Georgia’s Attorney General says the state cannot enforce some provisions of a new law requiring food stamp recipients to submit to drug testing before receiving benefits. In a letter, Sam Olens said that’s because federal law prohibits states from adding its own requirements to the Food Stamp program. The decision comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration moved Monday to block the new law.
During its journey through the General Assembly, a bill that would require drug testing for some applicants for food stamps and welfare generated controversy and drew fierce opposition from Democrats. Ultimately, though, House Bill 772 was approved on the final day of the legislative session last week. It would require people applying for this government assistance to be tested if they raise “reasonable suspicion’’ of illegal drug use.
A bill requiring food stamp and welfare recipients to submit to drug testing if suspected of illegal drug use has taken another step forward in the General Assembly. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee narrowly approved HB 772 on Monday.
Some Georgia applicants for food stamps and welfare benefits would have to pass a drug test under a House bill that cleared a committee Monday on a 7-6 vote. People applying for this government assistance would require testing if they raised “reasonable suspicion” of illegal drug use.
If there can be said to be a front-runner in the GOP primary for Georgia’s open U.S. Senate seat, it might be Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Savannah). The 11-term congressman has so far raised the most money in the race to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss. In an interview with GPB in late December, Kingston called himself the “consensus conservative” in the race.
Georgians looking for help staying warm this winter are finding long lines and reduced budgets at assistance programs. Low-income residents can apply for federally-financed home heating through community organizations. Last month's cuts in food stamp benefits led to a record number of applicants for energy assistance.
People working in Georgia's largest industry are waiting as Congress struggles to pass a farm bill. The sweeping package of agricultural subsidies has been in limbo since the summer, when House Republicans voted to remove funding for the food stamp program, which has traditionally been a part of prior farm bills.
The number of people relying on food stamps in Georgia is rising. The program a year ago provided food assistance to a record 1.91 million people in the state a year ago. By this June, the program had added 40,000 more recipients.