State Representative Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) today applauded the passage of House Bill 50 by a bipartisan vote of 61-30 in the Ohio House of Representatives, legislation he sponsored that takes steps in preventing fraud in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The legislation, inspired by recommendations from Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost, will require a color photograph of at least one adult in a household on the front of a SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, a feature that will protect the integrity of the program. By adding a photo to these cards, House Bill 50 seeks to deter trafficking of the cards and safeguard the benefits of those who need them and are legally entitled to them.

“Adding a photo ID onto the card provides a powerful deterrent to SNAP fraud,” Rep. Schaffer said. “The bottom line for the legislation is this—it protects the integrity of SNAP, deters trafficking for drugs and other illegal activity, and preserves the precious funds for those in need.”

“President Obama estimated SNAP had $750 million of fraud per year nationwide. On a population basis, that puts Ohio’s share around $26 million per year in SNAP fraud. We’re taking a significant step in this state to bring that number down and make sure Ohioans are getting the benefits they need,” Rep. Schaffer said. “No one loses benefits. We’re protecting $26 million for Ohioans who need our help. With House Bill 50, we will feed those in need, not drug dealers.”

Based on findings from a report released by Auditor Yost, the SNAP program in Ohio has an error rate of about five percent. Auditor Yost’s findings identified several key issues with the administration of the SNAP program, including numerous cases of SNAP EBT cards being traded on the black market. By selling their cards for cash, often at rates near 50 cents for every dollar on the card itself, individuals will use that money to purchase illegal drugs.

“We are adding an additional layer of security for our citizens, protecting their benefits so we can make sure they get the food they need to survive and thrive. We need to feed Ohioans, not drug dealers who take advantage of our neighbors,” Schaffer said.

The legislation is based off a similar law that passed in Massachusetts in 2013 with bipartisan support. Under federal law, Ohio is reimbursed for 50 percent of the cost of administering the SNAP program, including the cost of implementing House Bill 50. Additional cost savings will be realized by allowing the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services to use an individual’s photo already on file with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Exemptions to the bill include households with no adults, adults age 60 years or older, blind, disabled and victims of domestic violence. However, any exempted adult who wishes to have their photo ID on their EBT card can opt-in to the program.

House Bill 50, a benefits protection bill, now heads to the Ohio Senate for consideration.

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