PHOENIX (AP) - An Arizona House Republican promised to remove provisions that would cut off as many as 120,000 people from the state’s food stamp program in order to get his measure’s fraud protections passed.
The Arizona House reluctantly approved the measure Tuesday on a 33-26 vote, after four members changed their vote during a speech by bill sponsor Rep. Justin Olson, R-Mesa.
Olson promised during the vote that he would remove a provision that eliminates or reduces benefits for nearly 80,000 people who currently receive food stamps through a federal waiver that allows able-bodied adults without children to receive food stamp benefits.
“I have agreed to make an amendment in the Senate to remove that portion of the bill that prohibits the waiver request,” he said.
Later, in an interview with The Associated Press, Olson said he would remove another provision that cuts or reduces benefits for 40,000 people who received automatic eligibility through other low-income assistance programs.
Olson said he would take out the provisions to get his fraud requirements passed to ensure food stamp benefits go to people who actually qualify for them.
The fraud provisions would require the department to add photo identification to benefit cards, though recipients could choose to decline to have their photos taken. Legislative analysts estimate it would cost $12 million in the first year and $8 million annually.
More than a half-dozen Democrats rose to speak out against the measure citing statistics from the Department of Economic Security that 18,000 children would lose their benefits.
“This is the first time I have ever heard of the economic theory that the path to prosperity and self-reliance and wellbeing and money was achieved through starvation,” said Rep. Lela Alston of Phoenix.
House Bill 2596 now moves to the Senate.
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