A new legislation is circulating that is taking after New York legislation in New York City that requires fingerprinting for food stamps. The new law was put up from a Republican lawmaker and would change a law that was just created last year. State Senator Bob Dutton was the Senate Republican Leader last year, and he now wants to fingerprint Californians who participate in the food stamps program, CalFresh. He says that this new program is “common sense.” The requirement was done away with last year, but now Dutton plans on bringing it back.
”The attempt is to try to make sure we have a program that the resources of that program actually get to the people that most need it,” Dutton stated. “So what we’re trying to do is eliminate some of the fraud and waste within the program itself. This program’s a good program, but there’s too much abuse with it.”
However, Democrat Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes disagrees and states that fingerprinting doesn’t prevent any kind of fraud with food stamps. Fuentes authored the law from last year that removed the fingerprinting requirement. His office continues to show that finger imaging doesn’t do anything but cause more issues and requires more funding than necessary. The questions that are being raised about fraudulent activity and waste are better suited for California state auditors and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to Fuentes.
The new bill was just introduced this week and will continue to make its round until approved in both Senate and the House in California. However, there are many citizens who are again outraged at this idea because of the stigma that it places upon those who need this money to live. Organizations that help low income families and homeless in California also state that fingerprinting deters people from getting food stamps when they need it the most.
The new legislation comes at a time when food stamps are receiving a lot of heat in the press. Recent budget cuts have cut back on funding for many programs, but Republican nominee Newt Gingrich has stirred the pot with recent remarks that food stamp participants can go to Hawaii with their benefit money. These remarks are ridiculous and unfounded in the eyes of many families who use food stamps for the right reasons: providing a good meal that you wouldn’t otherwise have.
”I don’t get it. They want to make it more difficult to use benefits in the one program that directly effects how an American lives,” Nancy Scholtz stated. Scholtz is the director of Lending Hand in Los Angeles, an organization dedicated to providing food to needy families and the homeless. Scholtz believes that fingerprinting would create a problem for many who don’t want to wait in the long lines to get food stamps or have to give their fingerprints in order to get government benefits due to the stigma.
Fingerprinting isn’t new to California. Before last year, it was required that you needed to be fingerprinted for both CalFresh and CalWORKS, the state’s welfare program. The recent year hasn’t led to many changes in fraud, but there are certain leaders in both Senate and House that want to see the numbers going down for obvious reasons. It would save the state a lot of money if they could prevent food stamp fraud. However, fingerprinting may simply not be the way to achieve a solution.
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