Senate Bill 285 was re-introduced following concerns raised during a meeting of the Senate Majority Policy Committee in 2016.
Currently, Pennsylvania distributes SNAP benefits on a county-by-county basis, as opposed to other states which have set time frames for disbursements.
There are three different schedules counties follow, depending on the number of recipients of SNAP benefits in that particular county, according to a co-sponsorship memo. Several rural counties distribute SNAP benefits over one day each month; several rural and some larger counties distribute over a two-day period each month; while a third of the state, mostly larger counties, distribute benefits over a 10-day period.
Retailers that testified at the Policy Committee hearing argued that spacing out the distribution of SNAP benefits over the course of a month will allow their stores to be properly stocked and staffed. They advocate spreading out payments over a fixed period to help provide consistent product availability and effectively meet the needs of customers who receive and use SNAP benefits.
PFMA supports this legislation that would create a uniform time frame of when SNAP benefits would be distributed by the state over a 25-day period. The department will establish the guidelines necessary to meet the requirements of the legislation and will have six months to comply.
A companion House bill, HB299, was recently introduced by state Rep. Tarah Toohil.