Saturday, February 23, 2013

Idaho Senate Wants Better Cost Justification For Food Stamp Stagger Bill

Posted by on Sat, Feb 23, 2013 at 12:00 PM

The Idaho Senate wants a price check on a bill that would stagger food stamp distribution in the Gem State.

Senate Bill 1053—which passed through the Senate Health and Welfare Committee Feb. 18 on a 6-3 vote—hit a roadblock Friday, when Twin Falls Republican Sen. Lee Heider asked the bill be sent back to committee for a reality check on the measure's fiscal impact.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare initially estimated that it would cost more than $600,000 to implement the change, which would stagger the distribution of food stamp funds to Idaho applicants.

A few years ago, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare suggested that all the funds be distributed on one day in order to save the state some money. But Nampa Republican Rep. Christy Perry—who presented the bill—said the single day of distribution pushes thousands of Idaho families into grocery stores shortly after midnight on the first of the month and has led to "massive congestion."

In earlier testimony, Dawn Phipps broke into tears as she told lawmakers of how she started shopping in the middle of the night—and even out of town—after she was shamed by other citizens and even food store clerks when she showed her SNAP card to pay for her food.

"We're out there on the first of the month because, quite simply, we're out of food," said Phipps. "Do you know what it's like when your son comes home and asks to bring a snack to school and you can't because your cupboards are bare? Do you know what it's like when you can't bring in anything to a potluck to your workplace?"

On Friday, the Idaho Senate unanimously agreed to return the bill to committee to make sure the fiscal note was correct.

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