Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is challenging a Trump administration rule that could eliminate food assistance for more than 8,000 Minnesotans.
Ellison joined a group of 15 attorneys general and the city of New York on Thursday in filing a lawsuit to stop the U.S. Department of Agriculture rule, which would limit states from extending “food stamp” benefits beyond a three-month period for able-bodied adults without dependents.
The rule could affect nearly 700,000 Americans who rely on benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Under existing law, able-bodied adults without children can receive SNAP benefits for a maximum of three months during a three-year period. But for the past 24 years, some states — including Minnesota — have been allowed to waive that time limit for people in areas with high unemployment. States have also had a limited number of exemptions for people who would lose benefits under the time limit, and could carry over unused exemptions for use during economic downturns.
Under the new USDA rule, the criteria will be tightened for such waivers. Federal officials tout the rule change as a move toward a more self-sufficient society and say it would save the government $5.5 billion over five years.
Twenty-six Minnesota counties use time-limit waivers. The new rule would disqualify 23 of those counties. The state Department of Human Services estimates that 2,100 Minnesotans would lose SNAP benefits if the waiver is eliminated.
And about 6,000 Minnesotans would lose their benefits if the state is no longer permitted to carry over unused exemptions, DHS estimates. If the new rules take effect April 1, these changes would cost the state at least $500,000 for staff time and retraining, according to DHS.
Ellison and other attorneys general say the rule would burden states with new regulations and harm their residents and economies. They want the court to deem it “unlawful” and prevent it from taking effect.