House republicans aim to reduce fraud in food assistance program

Jun 10, 2011

The state provides food-assistance to low-income residents who qualify through the Bridge Card Program. The card operates sort of like a debit card instead of more traditional food stamps. They were adopted to make it easier for the state to run the program and reduce the stigma associated with using food stamps.

State Representative Tom Hooker is one of the bill’s sponsors.

“We’re aren’t trying to take food away from little kids and old people and people who are suffering. That’s not the goal of any of these bills.”

Hooker says the bill will make sure taxpayer dollars aren’t going to people who’ve figured out loopholes in the system.

Lawmakers hope to add a person’s photo and signature to the Bridge Cards so they can’t be used by anyone but the recipient. The bills propose banning cash withdraws from ATMs inside casinos. They also want to make sure people who are in jail or have outstanding warrants for their arrest are taken off food assistance.

“When (the state is) cutting back on spending and looking at way that we can in fact stretch our dollars further, getting rid of waste fraud and abuse just makes sense.”

It’s unclear when a house subcommittee will hold a hearing on the bills. Hooker says he doesn’t expect much opposition.

The package includes House Bills 4719 through 4724.