Photo ID on Lone Star Cards Expensive, Unnecessary

/, Food Security, Texas Legislature/Photo ID on Lone Star Cards Expensive, Unnecessary
Rachel Cooper

Today the House Human Services Committee will hear several bills that would require Lone Star EBT (electronic benefit transfer) cards, used by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) recipients, to have a photo ID of the cardholder. Proponents argue these bills will reduce fraud rates, which are already exceptionally low. But in reality these bills will only add barriers and costs to a system that has made so much progress in modernizing its functions.

Currently, the majority of those seeking SNAP and/or TANF benefits in Texas apply through a streamlined online system that uses third-party electronic verification and eliminates the need to travel in person to apply. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has been able to serve more Texans (a 16 percent caseload increase) without an increase in staffing. These bills would now force applicants to travel to HHSC offices for a photo ID, and will roll back a decade of progress in Texas, creating new unnecessary costs and barriers.

Costs to the state are expected to rise if Texas enacts photo ID requirements. The Legislative Budget Board estimates that the addition of a photo would end up costing $7 million to Texans this biennium.

There are already many checks in place to eliminate any chance of fraud. For example, a stringent application process and the issuing of a Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) combat recipient and retailer fraud. In addition, federal law requires all household members to be eligible to use SNAP benefits. Requirement for a photo ID could cause trouble for a teenager with a different last name from his or her grandparent when using the family’s EBT card to purchase food staples like eggs and milk.

Adding photo identification to EBT cards is costly and does nothing to eliminate the very low levels of fraud in the system. Instead lawmakers should focus on how best to meet the needs of more Texans who need food assistance.

At the Center for Public Policy Priorities, we believe in a Texas that offers everyone the chance to compete and succeed in life. We envision a Texas where everyone is healthy, well-educated, and financially secure. We want the best Texas - a proud state that sets the bar nationally by expanding opportunity for all. CPPP is an independent public policy organization that uses data and analysis to advocate for solutions that enable Texans of all backgrounds to reach their full potential. We dare Texas to be the best state for hard-working people and their families.

1 Comment

  • Spoken like a true fanatical liberal. Photos only scare people who are criminals. Sorry, the days of bad public policy are quickly coming to an end!

    Marty Walker 15.12.2016

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