Wisconsin lawmakers want to screen public aid recipients for use of illegal drugs and block their purchase of junk food under measures passed Wednesday by the State Assembly, according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
But the Republican-sponsored measures face an uncertain future, the newspaper writes, because they still must wend their way through the Senate, which refused to consider the junk food bill last session. The state would also have to receive difficult-to-obtain federal waivers to legislate the curb on junk food purchases, the report says.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes:
If the proposal does go forward, it’s expected to cost several million dollars because grocery stores would have to install new software to make sure people kept to the limits when they used the electronic-swipe cards to access food stamp benefits. The sponsors of the proposal don’t want to push that cost onto the stores.
The drug-testing proposals are similar to ones Republican governor and likely White House candidate Scott Walker included in his state budget bill that also is before lawmakers. Similar proposals in other states have generally been opposed by federal officials and courts as running contrary to federal law…
Like other uninformed legislators, some members of Wisconsin’s State Assembly have bought into President Ronald Reagan’s 1980s Black “welfare queen” stereotype. But most of the nation’s welfare recipients are White, which is likely the real reason Wisconsin’s Republican Senate refused to take up the measure last session.
Reports The Huffington Post:
Nationally, most of the people who receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are white. According to 2013 data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the program, 40.2 percent of SNAP recipients are white, 25.7 percent are black, 10.3 percent are Hispanic, 2.1 percent are Asian and 1.2 percent are Native American…
Twenty-three million households and 47 million Americans received benefits on an average month in 2013; enrollment declined slightly to 22 million households and 46 million individuals in 2014. Three-quarters of those households included a child, an elderly person or someone with a disability. The average monthly benefit per household was $274 in 2013 and $256 last year.
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