Democratic U.S. Reps. Al Lawson and Darren Soto are urging Florida Gov. Rick Scott to extend a time-limit extension he imposed following Hurricane Irma so that food stamp recipients can continue to receive benefits without risking their 90-day deadline.

Lawson, of Jacksonville, and Soto, of Orlando, said in a letter to Scott that Hurricane Irma has created economic conditions that leave too many people needing benefits of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [formerly known as food stamps] to get by, and that at least 36 counties and eight cities are eligible for a time-table waiver that Scott should extend.

Without the governor’s consent before the beginning of November, SNAP recipients in Florida between the ages of 18 and 50 who are not disabled and do not have dependents will be limited to SNAP benefits for 3 months in any 3-year period when not employed or in a work or training program, they argued in the letter.

“In response to the devastation of Hurricane Irma, your administration ceased enforcement of this time limit for the months of September and October in the 48 FEMA declared disaster counties throughout the state,” Lawson said in a news release issued by both his and Soto’s offices Tuesday. “This move allowed the most vulnerable of Floridians to rebuild their lives without the worry of losing their SNAP benefit, and this policy must be continued.”

Both Soto and Lawson sit on the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee and the Nutrition Subcommittee.

They asked Scott to continue this policy for all 48 FEMA declared disaster counties, in addition to areas that qualify based on excessive unemployment.

“Many Floridians are still incurring disaster-related expenses, from repairing property or loss of income,” Soto said. “While recovering and making ends meet, families should first and foremost be food secured. SNAP provides a gap in income for Floridians to feed their families and we must continue to provide this essential benefit for all affected.”

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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