Reported By Chris Bundgaard, Reporter - bio | email
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -
The idea of a Wisconsin lawmaker limiting what people can buy on food stamp programs may get a look in Tennessee.
Wisconsin State Representative Dean Kaufert is making national news with his bill that would require food stamp recipients to make healthier foods two-thirds of their purchases, limiting things like chips and soda to one third of what the federal assistance buys.
"Everything is okay in moderation, but if they eat too much of this stuff, then we see them on the medical side of things when they get juvenile diabetes, obesity and some other health related problems, and then the taxpayer pays for them," Rep. Kaufert told Nashville's News 2 by phone on Wednesday.
Currently, there are few limits on food stamp programs except for alcohol, tobacco and hot food.
Any changes states might make, like in Wisconsin, would require approval or a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture which runs the food stamp program.
"We do need the federal government to play ball with us, and other states to join in. Wisconsin is ready to be the test case so to speak," said Kaufert.
Tennessee House Republican leader Glen Casada told Nashville's News 2 the Wisconsin food stamp bill "has merit", and he "certainly will look at it."
Tennessee Senator Stacey Campfield, who withdrew a controversial bill last month on tying welfare payments to how a recipient's child performs in school, wasn't so sure the bill would fly anywhere.
"We can pass anything, but without the unlikely federal approval, it's not going to do anything," Campfield said.
Rep. Kaufert said several states have requested the waiver or changes from the federal government on the food stamp program, but so far they have all been unsuccessful.
"You know what? I am kind of daring the federal government to say no us," he added. "Based up on the reaction here in Wisconsin, based on the fact the national media is contacting me, this thing has some legs."
And maybe those legs will bring the bill to Tennessee.