Report Title:

Food Assistance Programs; Resident Aliens



Provides for a state-funded food assistance program for income qualified immigrant children and immigrants 65 years and older who are ineligible under federal law for food stamps.



H.B. NO.









relating to food assistance programs.



SECTION 1. The legislature finds that thirty-one million people, including twelve million children, in the United States are food insecure according to the United States Department of Agriculture analysis of the census bureau’s annual food security survey. One avenue through which these individuals can alleviate their food insecurity is food stamps. However, many persons are denied access to food stamps because they are not citizens. In addition, only thirty-eight per cent of citizen children living in immigrant families are receiving the food stamp benefits for which they are eligible.

The legislature further finds that the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 made most noncitizens ineligible for food stamps. In 1998 the United States Congress partially restored food stamps to select groups of immigrants under the provisions of the Agriculture Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act. Immigrants remaining ineligible for food stamps are children who entered the United States after August 22, 1996, adults (age 18 to 64) who entered the United States after August 22, 1996 and became disabled or reached aged 65, and refugees after seven years residence.

The legislature further finds that following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks many of Hawaii’s immigrants who work in the tourist, travel, and related industries have become either unemployed or compelled to reduce their work hours. Ineligible for food stamps, many of these families face insurmountable burdens as they struggle to maintain their homes and provide for their families. A state funded food assistance program will alleviate hunger and reduce despair in the immigrant community.

The purpose of this Act is to restore eligibility for public assistance for qualified immigrant children, disabled immigrants, and immigrants age 65 or older, and to establish eligibility for assistance for citizens of the compact states of free association.

SECTION 2. Chapter 346, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"§346- Food assistance program for certain immigrants. (a) The department shall by rule develop and implement a food assistance program to provide nutritional assistance to a lawfully present immigrant who:

(1) Meets all eligibility requirements of the food stamp program under this chapter but is not eligible for assistance under that program solely because of Title 8 U.S.C. section 1612, as amended; and

(2) Who meets one of the following criteria:

(A) Is a legal permanent resident younger than eighteen years of age who entered the United States after August 22, 1996;

(B) Is a legal permanent resident, age sixty-five or older, who entered the United States after August 22, 1996;

(C) Is a disabled legal permanent resident, as that term is defined by the department, who entered the United States after August 22, 1996; or

(D) Is a citizen of a country that is a party to a compact of free association with the United States, including the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands, who is ineligible for food assistance due to eligibility rules imposed by Title XXI of the Social Security Act in the Federal Balanced Budget Act of 1997, or the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.

(b) Subject to subsection (a), the food assistance program shall be administered using the same rules with respect to eligibility procedures and benefit levels that are used in administering the food stamp program under this chapter."

SECTION 3. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $ , or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2002-2003, to provide funding for the food assistance program for certain immigrants.

The sum appropriated shall be expended by the department of human services for the purposes of this Act.

SECTION 4. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect upon its approval; provided that section 3 shall take effect on July 1, 2002.