A subcommittee meeting for SSB 1061 is scheduled for today (Tuesday, January 26, 2021) at 2:00pm.
SSB 1061 is a bill in the Iowa Senate’s Labor & Business Relations Committee concerning electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards that could lead to profiling by law enforcement based on race and class.
We should be focusing on solutions to help people facing food insecurity in our state right now. Instead, this bill reinforces harmful myths about the Food Assistance/SNAP program and the people who participate in it.
Iowa’s criminal justice system has some of the greatest racial disparities in the nation, and this bill sends a message that counters the Governor’s focus on criminal justice reform.
How You Can Take Action Today:
- Attend the subcommittee meeting online today (January 26) at 2:00pm and speak in opposition to SSB 1061.
- Submit a written comment opposing SSB 1061.
- Contact the Senators on the subcommittee at their email addresses below or call the Senate switchboard at (515) 281-3371 to leave a message.
Sen. Dennis Guth
Sen. Pam Jochum
Sen. Jeff Taylor
More Information on SSB 1061
This bill is a solution in search of a problem.
- According to USDA, the prevalence of SNAP trafficking fraud is 1%.
- Unauthorized possession of one EBT card, let alone three, is already defined as a “fraudulent practice” pursuant to Iowa code section 234.13.
- “Fraudulent practice” can be a misdemeanor or felony, punishable with prison time, fines, and in the case of fraudulent practice related to the food assistance program, temporary suspension, up to a permanent ban from the Food Assistance program.
- A law enforcement officer who has probable cause to believe a person is in unauthorized possession of an EBT card can choose to make a report to the department of inspections and appeals (DIA).
- DIA’s Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT)/Program Integrity Unit conducts investigations related to the misuse and trafficking of EBT cards.
This bill could lead to profiling based on race and class.
- Under this bill, law enforcement officers who have “probable cause” to believe an individual is in unauthorized possession of even one EBT card shall report both the person in possession of the card and person who is named on the card to the department of inspection and appeals. This bill does not define what would constitute “probable cause.”
- There are a number of reasons that a person could legally be in possession of an EBT card that does not match the name on their ID.
- This bill has the potential for racial bias and profiling of individuals by law enforcement officers. Iowa’s criminal justice system has some of the greatest racial disparities in the nation, and this bill sends a message that is counter-productive to the Governor’s focus on criminal justice reform.