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UPDATE: Wis. Assembly Passes Food Stamp Trafficking Bill

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

UPDATE: 4/16 at 4:39 p.m.

MADSION, Wis. (AP) -- The state Assembly has approved a bill that would penalize the trafficking of the food stamp benefits in Wisconsin.

The Republican-sponsored measure would make it illegal to buy, sell or transfer food stamp benefits for cash and other unlawful purposes such as trading stamps for alcohol or cigarettes.

Republicans say the bill would give district attorneys the necessary tools to prosecute food stamp traffickers. They say the proposal also would ensure benefits are available to those who really need them. But Democrats called the plan misguided and mean-spirited.

The Assembly passed the measure 73-24 on Tuesday, sending the bill on to the state Senate.

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UPDATE: 4/16 at 10:49 a.m.

MADSION, Wis. (AP) -- A bill that would penalize the trafficking of food stamp benefits in Wisconsin is up for debate in the state Assembly on Tuesday.

Rep. Samantha Kerkman is a Republican from Randall. Her proposal would make it illegal to buy, sell or transfer food stamp benefits for cash and unlawful purposes.

It is already illegal in Wisconsin to make a fraudulent application for food stamps, fail to update income information or transfer benefits to someone who doesn't qualify. But the law does not address trafficking benefits.

Kerkman says her proposal is to make sure people who really need food stamps have access to them.

But opponents say it would unfairly stigmatize those who have done nothing wrong.

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UPDATE: 4/12 at 4:15 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A state Senate committee has approved a bill that would penalize the trafficking of food stamp benefits in Wisconsin.

The bill is identical to one that has already passed an Assembly committee and is scheduled to be taken up by the full Assembly on Tuesday.

The legislation would make it illegal to buy, sell or transfer food stamp benefits for cash and unlawful purposes.

It is already illegal in Wisconsin to make a fraudulent application for food stamps, fail to update income information or transfer benefits to a non-qualified person. But the law does not address trafficking benefits.

Rep. Samantha Kerkman says the proposal is aimed at people who sell their benefit cards and seek free replacements. Opponents say the proposal stigmatizes innocent users.
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ORIGINAL STORY: 4/12 at 9:25 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A proposal that would penalize acts of trafficking food stamp benefits is moving forward quickly in the Wisconsin Legislature.

The proposal by Republican Rep. Samantha Kerkman makes it illegal to buy, sell or transfer food stamp benefits for cash and unlawful purposes.

A Senate committee is scheduled to vote on the measure Friday. An Assembly committee approved it 5-2 on Thursday. It is scheduled to be taken up by the full Assembly on Tuesday.

Kerkman says she has heard about incidents where food stamp users in her district would sell their benefit cards and ask for a free replacement.

Opponents of the measure argue it would unfairly stigmatize users who haven't engaged in any misconduct.


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