SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — House Study Bill 504 would require people to complete an identity authentication process in order to receive public assistance benefits from the Department of Human Services.
Some of these benefits include supplemental nutrition assistance and supplemental security income. Representative Republican Skyler Wheeler said incorrect use of public assistance funds harms the state.
“We’re just trying to verify people are who they say they are,” Wheeler said. “We had a couple things that have happened. We were fined a couple million dollars. We had a 12 % error rate on our SNAP payments. Some of that was over-payments. Some of that was underpayments.
State representative Democrat Chris Hall said while some people may try to take advantage of the state’s assistance programs, most of these programs reach the right people.
“There are very few instances of fraud and most importantly, programs like SNAP, they generally reach single parents and children,” Hall said.
Jean Logan, the executive director of the Community Action Agency of Siouxland, said the bill creates a disadvantage for people who need these programs.
“You’re already in a terrible situation probably anyway and these are programs that are there when you need them,” Logan said. “They should be easy to be obtained.”
People in need sometimes don’t have the documentation needed to apply for these programs and Republican state senator Jeff Taylor said this legislation needs to find a balance between security and accessibility.
“I support the intent,” Taylor said. “We don’t want fraudulent applications where people are taking money from those who genuinely need it, but at the same time we just don’t want to set the bar too high or make it too difficult for those in genuine need.”
This bill was part of a package lawmakers tried to pass last year, but failed. The bill still has to be approved by the Senate committee.