The following is an analysis of the bill, SB 1658, introduced by Senator Storms.
This bill prohibits a recipient from using his or her electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card to access cash benefits outside this state, to purchase alcohol or tobacco products, or to access automated teller machines located in gambling and adult entertainment establishments. The bill also provides a list of establishments inside the state that a cash assistance recipient may not access cash benefits through an EBT card from an automated teller machine (ATM).
Additionally, the bill requires the Department of Children and Family Services (DCF or department) to add nonstaple, unhealthy foods to the list of items that may not be purchased with federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funds. The bill also prohibits the use of benefits at restaurants.
This bill amends sections 402.82 and 414.095, Florida Statutes.
Excerpts from an article:
Don't tell food stamp recipients what to eat, House panel says
A legislative effort to restrict the use of cash assistance benefits for the needy passed its second House committee Monday. But the most controversial portion of the proposal -- a lengthy list of snacks and junk foods that can't be purchased using food stamps -- may be doomed.
...Several trade groups representing grocery and convenience stores also registered their opposition to the proposal, including the Florida Retail Federation, Florida Beverage Association and Florida Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association.
Look who the opposition is.
One of the reasons I introduced this topic...our state senators and representatives are more accessible than their counterparts at the federal level. I encourage anyone interested to read the entire analysis, trying to take their own common sense stance, not a party line...then contact their state reps with their opinion.
IMHO, this is not a matter of discriminating against or denying benefits to the poor and hungry...this is a matter of good government stewardship of money that has been lawfully taken from those who have earned it. It is not a mattter of telling grown adults what they can eat, or what establishments they can visit on their own dime...it is telling grown adults that funds from the 'Supplemental Nutition Assistance Program' need to spent on nutritious food, and that emergency family cash assistance cannot be used for gambling and/or peep shows.
These measures will not eliminate all fraud and abuse by those who know how to get around the rules, but it will , for the majority of recipients, limit public money to the purchase of nutritious foods...what anyone does with the money they themselves earn is their own business.