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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

 11:57 AM 

Senate appoves making it illegal to to sell or trade food stamps

The Senate voted 28-5 today to make it illegal to sell or trade food stamps for anything of value.

Some Dems decried the legislation as unnecessary, saying fraud is already illegal in the program

Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, also questioned the level of scrutiny Republicans are putting on the food stamp program while seeming to ignore the various problems uncovered in the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

She also argued the legislation would penalize poor families who do things like trade a frozen lasagna for tampons, which she said they cannot buy with food stamps, or make it illegal for a child to sell lemonade if her parents bought the mix and sugar with food stamps.

“WEDC committed fraud. They broke the law. Where is the bill to punish WEDC?" Taylor said.

Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, dismissed the suggestion a district attorney would target a child running a lemonade stand and said the arguments against the bill were distorting its intent. She cited a media report on someone who scammed the homeless for their food stamp cards as evidence of fraud in the program and said the legislation would ensure its integrity.

“I think these conversations are distorting what this is about,” Darling said. “Program integrity is extremely important to taxpayers no matter what your income level is, no matter what color you are, no matter where you live across the state.”

Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, dismissed what he described as over-the-top rhetoric on the legislation.

Erpenbach said he voted for the bill in committee because it is a “so what?” piece of legislation. He said it doesn’t do much and the state is simply taking it up now because the federal government asked it to do so.

He also dismissed the suggestion the bill was inspired by reports of “rampant” fraud in the program and that it would protect the integrity of the program
“This isn’t going to do this simply because the bill doesn’t do much,” Erpenbach said, adding, “the feds asked us to do it and so we’re doing it.”

The legislation cleared the Assembly and next heads to the guv’s desk.


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