Bill would require photo ID for food stamps in Missouri

The ATM-like cards used for food stamps would have to include a photo identifying the cardholder under a bill proposed by a Lee’s Summit Republican.

State Sen. Will Kraus defended the bill in committee, arguing it is an attempt to prevent fraud. Last year, as part of a bill mandating that federal welfare recipients be subject to drug testing in order to keep their benefits, lawmakers included a provision requiring a photo on the cards used to access payments.

Kraus said his bill is the next logical step. The bill would mandate a card with a photo be issued to everyone in a household older than 16 who receives the benefits. “Without a photo ID, recipients can sell their food stamp card to someone else, who can then turn around and use the benefits for their personal use,” he said.

According to the fiscal note attached to the bill, the state’s Family Services Division estimates a cost of $1.50 each to issue a card to all household members. As of October 2011, there were 950,725 individuals receiving food stamp benefits in 440,881 households, meaning it could cost the state around $1.4 million to issue new cards with photos to all current recipients.

There also would be costs associated with training, notification and acquiring new equipment.

Democratic Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal of University City questioned the need for such a bill and asked for figures about just how frequent cases of fraud occur that might be prevented by a photo ID.

Kraus said that figure would be difficult to determine, but pointed to his own experience where he said he witnessed someone committing this type of fraud.

“It’s just hard for me to consider voting for this bill based solely on your one experience,” Chappelle-Nadal said. “If we’re going to do this, we need to get empirical evidence.”

The Senate committee studying the bill did not vote on the measure.