Some are calling a current Missouri bill the “most notorious pieces of legislation in America right now.” Under the bill, which was introduced by Missouri state Rep. Rick Brattin (R) in February, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients would be banned from using their food stamps to buy “cookies, chips, energy drinks, soft drinks, seafood, or steak.”
The bill, HB 813, has zero co-sponsors and has yet to be referred to a committee, meaning there has been no hearing scheduled nor are no plans to take it up before the Missouri House of Representatives adjourns for the year in May.
“I have seen people purchasing filet mignons and crab legs with their EBT cards,” Brattin told The Washington Post. EBT cards are the electronic benefit transfer cards used to distribute SNAP benefits, which can be used to purchase any food item as long as it isn’t a hot prepared meal or an alcoholic beverage.
Here’s the problem with Brattin’s bill: States aren’t allowed by federal law to create restrictions on who can receive SNAP benefits or what they can buy. So if Missouri moves ahead to implement Brattin’s legislation, the U.S. government, specially the U.S. Department of Agriculture, could stop the administrative funding the state need to operate the program. The exact same thing happened in Georgia in 2104, when lawmakers there nearly mandated drug tests into the state’s SNAP requirements before Gov. Nathan Deal (R) backed down.
“Brattin’s measure has also been compared to recent Kansas legislation that would ban welfare recipients from spending cash assistance at tattoo parlors and on cruise ships. The Kansas bill has passed through the state legislature and is awaiting a signature from Gov. Sam Brownback (R),” reports The Huffington Post.
In addition, Republicans are supposed to be of the mind that government should stay out of your personal business. So should they really be so quick to regulate someone’s grocery list when they’re “anti-big government”?
What are your thoughts? Do you think food stamp recipients could be prohibited from buying certain items?