State Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) has proposed legislation to put photo IDs on Electronic Benefit Transfer cards.
The bill, SB 0411, “authorizes a voluntary photo identification electronic benefit card (EBT) program for the food stamp program” and makes “trafficking in EBT cards” an offense, according to the summary provided at the Tennessee General Assembly website.
“EBT cards enable eligible people to receive cash assistance, which is stored online in a computer database and accessed electronically at stores by reusable plastic cards. Legislation would require the state to set up the program,” the Murfreesboro Post reports:
Not only will the use of photo IDs improve “integrity” for the assistance program, Tracy says, “It protects benefits for those who are legally and legitimately receiving them. At the same time, it helps detect criminal activity in EBT trafficking cases where cards are sold for cash or drugs, or when multiple cards are in the possession of an individual illegally.
Tennessee has more than a million SNAP recipients, costing about $2 billion in federal funds each year.
The legislation, which is modeled after laws passed in Maine and Massachusetts, would inform benefit recipients of the program when benefits are recertified.
“[H]aving the photo on the card will give state authorities or law enforcement the tools they need to identify and prosecute fraud and abuse,” Tracy told the Post.
State Rep. Joe Towns (D-Memphis) told the Post making the addition of a photo ID voluntary is “an interesting twist.”
“That makes it more palatable and also if it’s optional,” Towns told the Post.
“If it’s the people’s choice, always I’m fine with it,” he added.
The bill does not currently have a fiscal note attached to it.