Bills would require photos of food stamp recipients on Texas EBT cards

February 11, 2019

Texas lawmakers are targeting fraud involving the state’s food stamp program with two bills that would require photographs of the recipients on their government-issued cards.

Both House Bill 1250, filed by Beaumont Republican Rep. Dade Phelan, and Senate Bill 671, filed by Conroe Republican Sen. Brandon Creighton, would add the photo and name of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients to their Lone Star Cards and place a greater emphasis on reporting instances of food stamp fraud.

Lone Star Cards — also referred to as EBT cards, short for electronic benefit transfer — operate much like debit cards at the checkout stand, and are refilled by the state on a monthly basis. As with bank-issued debit cards, EBT card users get PIN numbers to authorize purchases. The two bills would also add the state’s food stamp fraud hotline number to all Lone Star Cards.

People younger than 19, seniors, the disabled, the blind, the homeless and victims of domestic abuse would all be exempt if either bill were passed into law.

State officials would also be required to monitor how often participants request replacement cards.

Neither bill has been assigned to a committee yet, but if approved by the legislature, the law would take effect on Sept. 1.

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