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3/6/2014 Messier bill aims to cut down on SNAP fraud
STATE HOUSE – Rep. Mary Messier (D-Dist. 62, Pawtucket) has introduced legislation calling for picture identification on electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Formerly known as the food stamps program, SNAP helps those who are struggling financially to buy food and nutritious meals. The program is the largest food and nutrition support program in Rhode Island and functions through a partnership between the state and federal governments. The House bill (2014-H 7661) would require the issuance of EBT cards with photographs of cardholders between the ages of 18 and 60. Disabled individuals and victims of domestic violence would be exempt from the photo requirement.

“SNAP serves as a precious resource,” Representative Messier said. “If we want to continue to help Rhode Island’s struggling individuals and families, we have to take steps to ensure that SNAP funds are going directly to the people who are enrolled in the program and who have gone through the necessary steps to obtain assistance. In the post-recession world, we are certainly trying to tighten our belts. This would save the state money and crack down on fraud simultaneously. ”

Qualification for SNAP benefits is based on income, resources and number of people who live in the applicant’s household. According to the state Department of Human Services (DHS), people may qualify for SNAP benefits if their income is less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). Representative Messier said she highly encourages members of the public to testify before the House Finance Committee when the bill comes up for a hearing.

Cosponsors of the bill include Representatives Deborah A. Fellela (D-Dist. 43, Johnston), Raymond H. Johnston Jr. (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket), Mia A. Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) and John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Portsmouth, Tiverton).

For more information, contact:
Brenna McCabe, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-2457