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As I See It

Photo ID food stamp cards a waste of money

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In a supposed effort to prevent government waste, some Wisconsin lawmakers are planning to flush our tax dollars down the toilet. The Assembly Committee on Public Benefit Reform voted to require food-stamp recipients in the state to show a photo ID when using their benefit cards. They say that would help prevent fraud by discouraging benefits recipients from selling their electronic benefit cards. There are a number of problems with this legislation. First, it is illegal, according to federal law, to require a photo on food stamp cards. Also, food stamp cards can be used by any member of a family which received them, so why put a picture on them if anyone can use them? Even the author of this legislation admits that is a problem. And chances are, no one will ever bother to look at the photo to see if it matches the person using the card. There is no requirement that store clerks check, and most who use EBT cards simply swipe them in the machine, without ever showing them to the clerk. Putting photo ID’s on benefit cards, even if the federal government said that was ok, would be expensive. It is estimated that it would cost $7 million initially, then another $2 million a year after that. That’s a lot of money, with zero benefit. One member of this committee has it right. This bill does nothing. Except waste more of our tax money.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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