Texas State Rep Sponsors Bill Requiring Photos on EBT Cards

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 10: Kethia Dorelus a social worker with the Cooperative Feeding Program displays a Federal food stamps card that is used to purchase food on February 10, 2011 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Recent statistics show that nationwide, one in seven Americans receives help from the Federal government …
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
KATHERINE RODRIGUEZ

A Texas state representative is looking to combat food stamp fraud by sponsoring a bill which would require the state’s health and human service commission to add names and photos to state identification cards for food stamp users.

Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) introduced legislation that would task the Texas Health and Human Service Commission with adding photos and names of each food stamp recipient on “Lone Star Cards,” which are the state’s Electronic Transfer Benefit (EBT) cards used to provide food stamp benefits to those in need.

The state ID cards give food stamp users access to government welfare programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

The bill would also require the state to have greater oversight over how often state residents apply for new benefit cards as a way to cut down on fraud in the state food stamp program.

Phelan said he introduced the bill because food stamp fraud in the state is commonplace, adding that the most common fraud cases in the state occur when benefit recipients exchange their state benefit cards and PIN numbers for cash at convenience stores.

“Individuals taking advantage of taxpayer-funded benefits are far too commonplace,” Phelan said in a statement. “We must make certain our most vulnerable Texans receive the food and supplies they desperately need; however, selling one’s Lone Star Card for cash is unacceptable. We need common sense safeguards to protect Texas taxpayers.”

State investigators found millions of dollars worth of food stamp fraud in Texas over the years. In 2016, investigators uncovered $17 million worth of fraud in 154 counties, according to state records.

Federal investigators have also uncovered millions in food stamp fraud in other parts of the country. In one case, investigators found that an Ohio meat business conducted $8.4 million in fraudulent SNAP transactions.

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