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January 19, 2022

Trone, Katko Introduce Legislation to Grant Returning Citizen Business Owners Authorization to Become Snap Retailers


January 19, 2022

Contact: Sloane Gallagher,

Trone, Katko Introduce Legislation to Grant Returning Citizen Business Owners Authorization to Become Snap Retailers

In 2020, Rep. Trone met with Altimont Mark Wilks, returning citizen and owner of Carmen’s Corner Store, in Hagerstown

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congressmen David Trone (D-MD) and John Katko (R-NY) introduced the SNAP Second Chance Act of 2021. The bill would limit the USDA’s authority to deny small business owners the opportunity to become Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) retailers because of a previous criminal conviction. The legislation was brought to fruition after Trone met with Altimont Mark Wilks, a returning citizen and the owner of Carmen’s Corner Store. Wilks has struggled to qualify for SNAP Retailer eligibility because of his past, making it significantly harder to serve the low-income patrons who visit his store. To learn more about his story, click here

The current SNAP regulations not only take customers away from justice-impacted small business owners, but they also lead to increased amounts of food insecurity in the area. 

“Right now, hardworking, small business owners can be denied SNAP Retailer authorization because of a past criminal record. It’s without question that this policy hurts low-income neighborhoods and makes it harder for justice-impacted individuals to get back on their feet, and that’s a shame,” said Congressman David Trone. “This bill will fix that, and give folks who have paid their debts a real second chance to help themselves and their communities. Thank you to Altimont Mark Wilks for bringing this issue to my attention and Congressman Katko for partnering with me in this effort.”

“I am proud to introduce the bipartisan Second Chance SNAP Act,” said Congressman John Katko. “Under current law, USDA standards prevent small business owners with a criminal record from becoming SNAP eligible vendors. In addition to acting as a barrier for entrepreneurs who have taken steps to turn their lives around, this prohibition can exacerbate food insecurity in underserved areas. The Second Chance SNAP Act takes responsible steps to update USDA’s standards and provide a greater opportunity for these business owners to support themselves, their families, and their communities.”

“The SNAP Second Chance Act will change the lives of not only returning citizens, but also entire families and communities. I reached out to Congressman Trone for assistance and was met with an abundance of energy and support that gave me the fortitude to keep my business open, despite not being able to gain revenue from EBT payments,” said Altimont Mark Wilks, owner of Carmen’s Corner Store. “As a returning citizen, I was denied the opportunity to become a SNAP retailer and my business was unable to provide the necessary affordable food and beverages that low-income families need. This bill will give returning citizens, and those who have been affected by mass incarceration, a second chance to pursue entrepreneurial aspirations without the obstacles of discriminatory policies that actually deter community growth and development.”

For bill text, click here.

For bill summary, click here.

The bill is endorsed by the Alliance for Safety and Justice, Americans for Prosperity, American Parole and Probation Association, Center for Employment Opportunities, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, Dream Corps JUSTICE, Due Process Institute, Gatekeepers, International Community Corrections Association, Health Alliance for Violence Intervention, National Alliance for Trauma Recovery Centers, National Coalition on Shared Safety, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Prison Fellowship, Successful Reentry, R St Institute, Responsible Business Initiative for Justice, and Tzedek Association.

Congressman David Trone was elected to the House of Representatives in November 2018 to serve the 6th District of Maryland, which includes all or part of Montgomery, Frederick, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett Counties. Trone serves on the Appropriations, Veterans’ Affairs, and Joint Economic Committees in the 117th Congress. In Congress, Trone is fighting to make progress on issues that matter to Marylanders, including the mental health and addiction crises, criminal justice reform, and funding for medical research.