The Senate had a last-minute change of heart on a bill, SB165, that would've created more hurdles for people to access resources through food stamps. The bill to require Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cards to include a photo ID was tabled until the new year.
Senate Republican leadership said there were too many questions and concerns still lingering on the bill. Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) said they did not want to rush the issue and thought it would be better to take a closer look at the legislation.
Republican supporters have said the bill would help reduce fraud. However, advocates for the poor say cases of fraud are not widespread while a photo requirement on cards would create an expensive program for the state.
"This bill is $15 million in taxpayer money that is chasing a problem that doesn't exist," said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. "And I think that in this holiday season, some reasonable minds, and heads, and hearts decided that this was not the right time."
Obhof says they delayed a vote on the bill because of the concerns brought up by food banks and other advocates. One specific concern is that, of the 17 states that have tried to implement similar requirements, 16 have abandoned the program. Massachusetts, the remaining state, has suspended implementation.
"So we're going to look at what those states did and how this bill compares to those. My understanding is that our bill would've been different and more functional," Obhof said.
He added that they still plan to vote out a version of the bill next year.
But Hamler-Fugitt argues that there is no form of the bill that would be needed and that requiring photo ID on SNAP cards becomes a "deterrent to eligible people critical, federal food assistance."