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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

 4:29 PM 

FoodShare bill passes Assembly

Impassioned debate got Assembly Dems nowhere as a bill that restricts the uses of the state’s food-stamp system cleared the floor on a 60-35 vote.

Republicans Adam Neylon, of Pewaukee, and Jessie Rodriguez, of Franklin, joined Dems in voting against the bill.

Under AB 177, DHS would require that not less than 67 percent of enrollees’ monthly purchases under the state’s FoodShare program fall into specific nutritional categories outlined by WIC, a federal list of foods for women, infants and children. DHS also would prevent the use of the food-stamp system to purchase shellfish.

The guv attached an emergency statement to the bill. That lets a bill that carries a state expense pass prior to budget approval.

The bill’s fiscal note predicts the change to the system would cost the state but labels that amount “indeterminate.” The note cites an evaluation of a Massachusetts system and draws from that study a potential cost of $55.6 million for retailer infrastructure changes.

The bill calls for reimbursing retailers for their initial implementation costs.

Dems repeatedly pointed out the cost to the state at a time of budget cuts to K-12 and the UW System.

“It is going to cost a lot of money,” said Rep. Gary Hebl, D-Sun Prairie. “And where is it coming from? We don’t have it here.”

If the guv signs the bill, the state still would need a federal waiver to implement the law because it takes federal WIC standards and applies them to the state system. Other states have sought such waivers for similar programs, but the feds have not granted one.

Dems insisted several times the bill will not receive a waiver. Rep. Andy Jorgensen, D-Milton, said the GOP has an ulterior motive.

“It’s a distraction from a terrible, Dumpster fire of a budget,” he said. “Your budget.”

Bill author Rep. Robert Brooks, R-Saukville, has said it is a bipartisan proposal that would curb such abuses as someone using the FoodShare system to buy $62 worth of jelly beans. His defense of the bill drew bipartisan applause on the floor.

As for comments about the budget, Brooks said, “We may have a crap budget, but we’ll make the budget better.”

He went on to dispute arguments that the bill sets different standards for certain people.

“To say that I’m demonizing poor people is wrong,” Brooks said.

Dems and other groups also have claimed the bill would harm businesses, threaten jobs and put checkout clerks in difficult positions of telling people what they can and cannot buy.

The bill was amended so the list of foods would include cranberries, all potatoes and all dairy. Another amendment allows all sizes, brands and packaging of foods on the WIC list.

Comments: 1

At June 1, 2015 at 8:09 AM, Blogger State Assembly said...

There is a moral tone to this bill that sounds good and feels good. However, you have to look closer. Advocates of this bill state that the intent of the bill is that 2/3 of what people buy is healthy and not causing the person to have health problems. While it is true that proponents claim this, yet it is not true that is
bill accomplishes that. There are many healthy foods and indifferent foods left off the list, such as spices, virtually all organic foods, reduced fat or lower calorie varieties (regular peanut butter is ok but not reduced fat peanut butter), dried beans, pasta sauce, ketchup, etc.

Many people have diet restrictions that make the foods on the list of what is claimed to be "healthy" very unhealthy for them in reality. For example, what is a
person with Celiac's supposed to do when the only type of bread or rolls the
allow is wheat bread??? Should this bill go through many healthy foods will be restricted.

Then you also have the question of who determines what is healthy? Do we let the FDA, federal government, state government, or any other bureaucracy dictate to citizens what is healthy??? There are so many diets
out there who is to determine what is IS? The list of items were pulled off the WIC list (Women's, infants, children) and these foods do not apply to the elderly, men, or teenagers.

There is a cost consequence as a result of this bill too. Why can't a family buy mutton when it is on clearance, or buffalo or another meat? Why can’t they buy in bulk to stretch funds further? Can a family not make multiple lasagnas or their own seasonings in bulk (which also are all natural and healthier)? This bill is a defnite deterrent to the resourcefulness of the people on the program.

It would have been best served to eliminate the obvious junk food items like pop, chips, etc. This bill has unintended consequences that were not thought through. Add in the $55.5 million in start up costs for a a state who the author of this bill says has a "cr@p budget" and it is just more shocking.

It is very disconcerning to know that the author of this bill is a freshman lawmaker who's principal occupation is tavern owner. That fact combined with the photos of his physique are not very reassuring for him to be determining what is healthy. The results show with the open questions above.

Listening to his court testimony it does not appear that he is a good judge of what is fraudulent or not either. If you're interested in viewing and hearing
for yourself it is attached here:


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