Separate grocery stores, photo IDs: Lawmakers want to make food stamps ‘a crutch not a lifestyle’

Two Wisconsin Republican lawmakers trying to cut down on welfare benefits abuse are catching heat from Democrat lawmakers and liberal groups for a bill they are sponsoring that would require food stamp recipients to present a photo ID when paying with their food stamp card.

One of them is even going so far as to recommend separate shopping facilities for welfare recipients.

Rep. Jesse Kremer told the Cap Times the ID is designed to prevent fraud and wasteful spending, but opponents suggest it’s a form of “poor shaming.”

“Realistically, I think it could be a bipartisan bill,” Kremer told the Cap Times, citing a similar policy being used in Democrat-leaning Massachusetts. “They just have found that these are ways they can cut down [on fraud] and make them more efficient.”

He said the measure would help prevent FoodShare recipients from selling their cards for cash.

“For people that are trying to peddle these cards on the black market and social media, it would be a lot harder to peddle them if it’s got a picture of someone on it,” he said.

Kremer Nass
Rep. Jesse Kremer (left) and Sen. Steve Nass (right).

Scot Ross, the executive director of One Wisconsin Now, called the bill “appalling” and blamed Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican majority legislature for the struggles of poor families.

“Shaming a mother in poverty who’s trying to feed her kids isn’t going to make her less poor. Basing policies on ridiculous allegations isn’t going to solve any real problems,” he said.

“Jesse Kremer needs to provide the evidence to back up his call for this despicable policy, and if he can’t, the first thing he should do after apologizing to the people of Wisconsin is resign.”

Ross also questioned Kremer’s motivation since he wrote a paper for House Speaker Robin Vos in which Kremer called for SNAP recipients to shop at separate, government-run food pantries.

“The fact that the author of the bill would, in his perfect world, require poor people go to segregated grocery stores to get food for their families, makes it clear that it’s seething contempt, not legitimate public policy concern driving Kremer and supporters of this bill,” he said.

But Kremer defended the idea in his paper.

“Yes, it may be humbling to go into the pantry to purchase ‘needed items,’ but as I mentioned earlier, most people understand that this is meant to be a crutch and not a lifestyle. I would also love to see photo IDs on all Quest cards and will continue to work this angle,” he wrote.

Outrage! Judge hammers white victims of armed home invasion for racism, lets criminal go free.

Other opponents said there is little evidence that use of a photo ID would do much, if anything, to prevent fraud.

“The way we’ve drafted the bill is it would still be head of household getting the card with the photo ID on it, but everyone else in the household still would have to be able to use that card,” Kremer conceded. “So it’s kind of, yeah, a double-edged sword. It works in some cases and won’t in others.”

The bill, co-sponsored in the state Senate by Sen. Steve Nass, would have to overcome some hurdles before being put in place.

Among them, the need for Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services to present an implementation plan to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to approve a measure to distribute Electronic Benefits Transfer cards with photos on them to the state’s FoodShare recipients.

The Department of Health Services would also have to submit a waiver to the U.S. Department of Agriculture allowing the DHS to require recipients to present a photo ID when using their EBT cards.


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