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Committee endorses food-stamp fraud crackdown


UNDATED (WSAU)   A bill that makes it illegal to sell a person’s food-stamp benefits was endorsed yesterday by a state Assembly committee – and it’s up for a vote Friday by a Senate panel.

Assembly Republican Samantha Kerkman of Powers Lake is the bill’s main sponsor. She wants to make it a crime to buy, sell, or transfer Food-Share benefit cards for cash and other purposes. The Assembly committee endorsed the bill 5-to-2, and it’s scheduled for a vote in the full lower house on Tuesday. Kerkman says she’s heard that people in her district are selling their Food-Share cards, and then asking for replacements. But the bill’s opponents say it will put an unfair stigma on those who follow the law and don’t sell their benefits.

Wisconsin’s Food-Share program went to a debit-card system over a dozen years ago – and there have been occasional reports of fraud. A state report last year said the number of Wisconsin Food-Share participants jumped from 388,000 people a month in 2007 to 816,000 per month in 2011.