This is the testimony that will be delivered before the MN House Health and Human Service Reform Committee, March 15, 2011:
The Welfare Rights Committee would like to state that this Bill – House File 171 – is not based in any common sense or fiscal responsibility. It is appears to be based on knee-jerk, ignorant, bias and a desire to stigmatize the poor.
First we would like to address the provision that makes it illegal for MFIP families to withdraw cash from the cash portion of the MFIP grant – and in fact, appears to make it illegal for MFIP families to have any type of money at all in their pockets. How do you expect people to take care of business like paying bills such as lights, gas, water, trash and phone? Not every place we shop at takes the EBT card and that is why it is necessary for us to be able to pull cash out the teller machine.
The cost to small businesses and landlords all across the state of having to get an EBT hook-up would be huge. The burden on families would be worse. You can’t pay a parking meter, buy postage stamps, do laundry, ride the bus, set up bank account or pay your medical co-pays without cash. Considering that MFIP families are already living 60% below the poverty level and need to scramble every day for survival, this provision is not just ridiculous, it is cruel.
Next, the part of the bill that makes it illegal to withdraw MFIP benefits out of state. This puts burdens on families who are forced to leave MN to attend funerals, sick relatives, visit family members in the military, hunt for jobs and all the other things we have to leave home for. It is a restriction on our constitutional right to travel from state to state.
Section two, requiring the use of a photo ID for EBT purchases is also misguided. It hurts families that have to send their Personal Care attendants or children to the store to get food, either because the parent is disabled and unable to walk, or if the parent is working and the latchkey kids help out by going to the store and doing shopping for the house.
We are angry that this bill would even be considered. We see the hate-mongering in so called “news” reports in the media and the bumper stickers. This bill appears to come from there, since it doesn’t come from a human or fiscally responsible standpoint.
We’ll leave you with this. It is not right to punish a whole group because of the supposed actions of a few. You in this room could have a pretty rough time if that was the case. It is not right to stigmatize and dehumanize women living the hard, horrible life of trying to raise children while living 60% below the poverty level. It is not right to use racist, bumper-sticker hate to inflict human misery for political gain.