In a hearing much less contentious than one held last week that resulted in a pair of legislators leaving the meeting in disgust, the House Health and Wealth Committee voted to remove the asset test from people seeking to receive food stamps from the federal government.
The asset test, which Gov. Butch Otter suspended for one year as of May 1, 2009, measured the amount of physical property owned by food stamp applicants prior to approval of entry into the aid program. Physical property is classified as second vehicles, RVs, boats, and ATVs.
Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, voted for the removal of the test in its subcommittee hearing before asking the full panel to hear it last Friday. Luker said that though he does support the temporary removal of the asset test, the Department of Health and Welfare (DHW), which administers the food stamp program, must reconfigure the program's parameters for qualification. According to DHW, food stamp use in Idaho is rising.
"It is an important part of the process, but it does need updating," said Luker. "We want people to be personally responsible, and food stamps are not an insurance policy against financial loss."