MADISON (WKOW) -- A group of Republican State Senators want to make the trafficking of food stamp benefits a criminal offense.
Wisconsin's food stamp program, known as Food Share, paid out roughly $1.2 billion in benefits to low-income residents in 2012.
Those benefits are obtained through electronic benefit transfers, or EBTs, made available through the Wisconsin QUEST Card. Recipients use QUEST Cards like a debit card, paying for food and having the amount of each purchase deducted from their monthly Food Share stipend.
Senate Bill 78, introduced by Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), would make it illegal for anyone to buy, sell, steal or otherwise exchange benefits accessed through the EBT system for cash or any other consideration.
SB78 also outlaws the exchange of benefits for firearms, ammunition, explosives or controlled substances. It also prohibits a person from using benefits to purchase food that has a container deposit, for the sole purpose of returning the container for a cash refund.
The bill also prohibits someone from reselling food purchased with Food Share benefits and also prohibits a person from buying that food on resale.
Federal law already prohibits someone from selling their food assistance benefits for cash. But in February, the USDA also announced new measures to crack down on trafficking, similar to the ones in SB78.
The bill is assigned to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, but has yet to be scheduled for a public hearing.
Capitol Bureau Chief Greg Neumann will have a full report on this story on 27 News at 5 and 6.
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