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Lawsuit May Halt Food Stamp Work Requirement

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Two New Mexico nonprofits filed a lawsuit this week against the state that could halt changes to the state’s food assistance program.

The Center on Law and Poverty and the Southwest Organizing Project, along with three people who rely on food stamps, are asking for a temporary restraining order that would stop a work requirement for certain SNAP recipients that’s slated to go into effect on November 1.

Attorney Sovereign Hager said the state failed to publish an accurate notice of the changes or the full regulation before the public comment period, which she said violates state law. Plus, she says, the new rules are hard to understand.

"They’re extremely confusing," Hager said. "In fact, for some people, they’re impossible to follow because the regulations are themselves contradictory and perhaps written hastily. It’s not clear what people have to do. It’s not clear what parts are mandatory or who they apply to."

The Human Services Department estimates 20 percent of people relying on food assistance would be affected by the new SNAP rules — that’s about 80,000 people.

HSD spokesperson Matt Kennicott has called the lawsuit “baseless.”  

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
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