SSB 1105 is a Step in the Wrong Direction for Iowa

Senate Study Bill 1105 is a bill in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee that targets the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Your feedback can ensure Iowans aren’t faced with additional barriers around hunger and food insecurity. A subcommittee meeting for SSB 1105 is scheduled for Wednesday, February 15, at 11:00am at Room 315. You can also join the subcommittee meeting online via Zoom.

SSB 1105 contains a number of harmful proposals targeting SNAP and other public assistance programs, including:

  • Establishing an asset test for SNAP. Households would face an asset limit of $2,750, or $4,250 if the household contains a person with a disability or someone 60+ years of age. While there are some exemptions, households with more than one vehicle would be at risk of losing their SNAP benefits. Even children’s savings accounts would count toward a household’s limit. And households well below the asset limit would be at risk of losing their benefits, too, due to the increased administrative hassle and reporting requirements.
  • Requiring custodial parents to cooperate with the child support recovery unit in order to be eligible for SNAP. By definition, custodial parents have children in their household. There is not a way to implement this provision that does not take food away from children.
  • Requiring all public assistance program applicants to complete a computerized questionnaire to confirm their identity. While this could eliminate barriers for some, it creates additional barriers for others. We believe this could be improved by making the computerized identity authentication process an option, not a requirement.

So, why is this even being proposed in our state legislature?

  • SNAP enrollment is currently at a 14-year low in the state of Iowa. SNAP benefits are 100% federally funded, and the state has a 50-50 cost share with USDA on administrative costs, which have remained stable for over ten years.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services is nearing completion of a Business Process Redesign to improve its eligibility verification system. Why are we looking at a bill to revamp the eligibility verification system when we literally did just that?
  • We’ve heard that these bills aren’t about removing people from SNAP, but about protecting the program for the “truly needy.” But the simple, unfortunate fact is SSB 1105 would kick people off SNAP and increase hunger and food insecurity in the state. In the first year after Pennsylvania established an asset test in 2012, 4,000 households were removed from the program because they exceeded the limit, but another 110,000 households were removed from the program simply because they couldn’t meet the additional reporting requirements. That’s what is at stake with this bill.

Food banks, food pantries, and anti-hunger organizations across the state are assisting record numbers of people right now. At the same time, SNAP enrollment is at a 14-year low. Iowa’s legislature should be exploring options to make SNAP more accessible, like increasing the income eligibility for SNAP and investing in the Double Up Food Bucks program, not creating additional hoops to jump through that will ultimately kick people off the program.

How can you help?

You can submit a public comment speaking out against SSB 1105, but be sure to reach out to directly to the three Senators on the subcommittee ahead of Wednesday and ask them not to advance the bill.

Thank you for your ongoing advocacy efforts!

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