• Petitioning Texas Legislature

This petition will be delivered to:

Texas Legislature

Get Texas to Opt out of law PERMANENTLY banning anyone with a felony drug conviction from receiving food benefits!

    1. Lauren Johnson
    2. Petition by

      Lauren Johnson

      Austin, United States


Thousands of people trying to get back on their feet are denied access to the very thing that can help them stay sober. While violent offenders can eat, non-violent drug offenders are forever banned from receiving food assistance even when they're trying to live positive lives. Legislators are more concerned with their political careers than with ensuring that Texas citizens can get back on their feet and become productive members of society.   In 1996, a bill passed through the Senate permanently banning anyone with a felony drug conviction from ever receiving benefits from the food stamp program. While it is easy to see the good intentions behind this law, it is an extremely flawed policy. In fact, 39 out of 50 states have opted out of it but Texas has not. Texas has the 2nd highest rate of incarceration in the world and a large percentage of those who have records are in some way drug related. People have the capacity for change. Why discriminate ONLY against people who were CAUGHT with drugs? Those that have criminal histories already face many obstacles to employment, housing, and taking away access to a need so basic is inhumane! Meet Elizabeth, she is a recovering addict, with felony drug convictions on her record. Elizabeth struggled for months to find employment. Once employment was gained she dealt with multiple abusive situations and tolerated them with the knowledge of how difficult finding another job would be. Elizabeth got fired. She also happened to be 7 months pregnant when she was fired. So now in addition to having the obstacle of her criminal history she is now the pregnant girl that most employers will be reluctant to hire. Her family is on drugs so they can't be a source of support to her. While she is pregnant she can't receive food stamp benefits because of her history, and the law. Once she has the baby she can receive benefits for the baby ( even though the baby can't eat) but how will she eat until then? She lives in Bastrop Texas which is a small town and the few food pantries available are limited in what they can do. In Austin the resources are greater, but that would mean having the time, and money to get there and if she had the money to spend for gas then she would just be able to go to the local store. Elizabeth should be able to access programs that her tax dollars helped fund! This law should not have been passed in the first place, but we need to send a message to our representatives that this is not acceptable behavior!  Sign my petition and let them know that!

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 500 signatures
    2. Need Help: as we prepare for the next legislative session!

      Lauren Johnson
      Petition Organizer

      I wanted to send out an update to let everyone know what's new! As we prepare for the next legislative session there is some strategy being implemented to this fight! Elliot Naishtat has said that he will sponsor this bill again in the next session, and one of the policy analysts that I know is working on securing a different legislator to sponsor a different version of this bill so that again we can have more than one shot at making some progress. I would like to ask that if any of you who have signed the petition, live in Austin, or are willing to make the trip, that you email me. I want to build supporters to come and testify at the capital when the committee meetings to hear the bills convene. I know not everyone is able to take time out of their day, and I appreciate all the assistance that you have all given so far! If you are unable to testify, then I would truly appreciate if you would share this petition with your friends and family! If you are able to testify please send an email to laurenfreenow@gmail.com so that I can put you on a list to be notified when the time approaches for the bill to be heard!
      We will be trying to compromise to get the bill passed out of the committee one version is going to request a limit be placed on the ban so that instead of a lifetime ban, people would be eligible after a period of years.
      The second version would ask that instead of making it all drug offenses that it would focus more on the dealers.
      I personally don't like either of the compromises, however any progress would be better than none, and once we get our foot through the door we have a better opportunity to go back and push it further open! Thank you for your support!

    3. Reached 250 signatures
    4. Update

      Lauren Johnson
      Petition Organizer

      One of the two bills died. The other one still has a chance, but we have to make some compromises to get it through. The compromise would lift the lifetime ban and place a 2 year ban from the time of conviction. It isn't perfect, it is still discriminatory and it is still double jeopardy. But any progress is better than none. I am going today to talk to the house committee members again. The sudden influx of names this past week or two was a wonderful surprise! Thank you, lets keep pushing onward!

    5. Progress

      Lauren Johnson
      Petition Organizer

      I wasn't sure with the recent elections what kind of chances a new bill for this would have in this session of the legislature. I received and email the other day that Tuesday March 26, 2013 two bills in favor of opting out of the ban are being heard. I am going to testify and have reason to believe this bill has a better chance at getting passed than in the years passed. Thank you for your support, please continue to spread the word!

    6. Reached 100 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Stephen Matusek SUGAR LAND, TX
      • 2 days ago

      I am disabled & need to be able to get a Lone Star Card

    • Kristin Jenkins NEW CANEY, TX
      • 5 days ago

      I should have this right as well anyone else

    • Beth Trepanier CEDAR GROVE, WI
      • 12 days ago

      I am also a drug charge felon other then this charge I have no criminal history. Having a drug felony on my record and probation and jail time is enough pubishment but to add more? Doesn't seem to even match any part of the sentence . unless judge specifies it because of proof of abusing food stamp privaliges I don't see how its right to just not allow drug felons this assistance if family qualifies it because they are in need of help and felons trying to get back into working society again should never be an exception because its not just the felon who suffers but also the family. I'm a single mother of 2 Young children trying to support my family has been so hard and beyond stressful and I feel like I'm being kicked when I'm already down. No job yet ... I cannot get educational assistance so I have no idea how I'm going to get bye. This just doesn't make sense to me .

    • april delridge INWOOD, WV
      • 13 days ago

      This is important to me because my husband is a felon with a drug charge that happened when he was a teenager. He served his time and has been clean and sober sine. However, because of his actions 17 years ago not only him, but me and his kids are being punished as well. What ever happened to helping those who are willing and working hard to help themselves and make a good honest life. Please pass!!!

    • Laura Hawkins GARLAND, TX
      • 14 days ago

      No one should be denied the right to sustain themselves or the families.


    Develop your own tools to win.

    Use the Change.org API to develop your own organizing tools. Find out how to get started.