Meeting Public Comments
Subcommittee meeting and times are as follows:
A bill for an act relating to the performance of an asset test to determine eligibility for supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits.
Subcommittee members: Jeneary-CH, Meyer, A., Wessel-Kroeschell
Date: Wednesday, January 19, 2022
Time: 12:30 PM - 1:00 PM
Location: House Lounge 2
Names and comments are public records. Remaining information is considered a confidential record.Comments Submitted:
Jackie Smith 
The SNAP program should not be difficult for people to obtain or use. Many do not have good transportation and need to be able to verify who they are and their need easily. They also need the value of the program to be adequate for food costs. The farm to market or fresh vegetable program should be continued also. People and children need food for their bodies and MINDS to work. Be kind to Iowans. Look at our lines at the Food Bank in subzero weather. Think of others as you have meals everyday and some do not. If IOWA FEED THE WORLD why can you not feed Iowans?????
Tom Mohan [Iowa Hunger Coalition, Iowa CCI, Mayflower Congregational UCC, Sioux City]
I'm writing to oppose HSB 508. This seems a very harmful bill that will kick hungry people off SNAP. Asset limits discourage those who are eligible for SNAP benefits. Your subcommittee should be developing ways to encourage, promote and assist hungry people in need to build up their wealth and assets as they seek to work their way through uncertainty and insecurity. This is mean spirited. Stop punishing poor people.
Stephany Hoffelt 
This is absurd. How does it make sense to penalize people for being frugal and saving money, which let's be honest is such a struggle in this economy that it seems unlikely that this restriction will impact many people? I am more alarmed about that fact that in a state where very few places (really none) have reliable public transportation, you are thinking of enacting a law that would make it that so that a family with two wage earners would be at risk of losing their eligibility for SNAP if they own a car for each person to drive to work? It is quite simply unacceptable that you would consider enacting legislature that makes it more difficult for the working poor to manage living in a state where the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and so few workers are paid a living wage. If you don't want people to apply for SNAP assistance, consider requiring that employers pay people more.
Eric Hanson [Faith Lutheran Church. ]
Especially during these challenging times, SNAP has helped out so many who are living under vulnerable situations. SNAP has also provided a boost to the economy, providing more needed extra revenue to many local grocery stores and small businesses. HSB 508 would eliminate SNAP benefits for many families who deeply need them right now. This would lead to even greater food insecurity and would also be a drag on a suffering economy by reducing sales at many grocery stores. That is why I am deeply opposed to HSB 508.
Nicholas Theisen 
Legislators are constantly talking about the need for people to get a job and lift themselves out of poverty, and now they seem determined to smack down those who actually manage to save something for the difficult times we all live in. The cruelty of punishing people who are getting back on their feet right at the moment when they might be able to stabilize theirs and their family's lives is simply beyond the pale. There is no purpose in imposing such incredibly restrictive limits on SNAP beneficiaries beyond punishing people simply because they are poor. I am ardently imposed to this change and any other whose intent is clearly to make it so that those who need our help the most are denied access to it.
Francis Agnoli 
This bill is wrong for Iowa, especially sine one of the stated goals of this legislature is to attract (and retain) a stable work force. The bill will not do what it proposes to do. Asset limits have been shown to discourage people who are eligible from applying for SNAP, increase administrative costs, and discourage people from saving for emergencies. Even childrens savings accounts would count toward the total asset limit for a household. Households with more than one vehicle would be at risk of losing eligibility for SNAP benefits. Having a vehicle can be the difference between finding employment or not, especially in rural and other areas of the state without public transit. Why would you want to penalize those trying to find work? Finally, only five states currently have an asset limit for SNAP, with the lowest asset limit being $5,000. This bill would make Iowa's asset limit for SNAP $2,500, the most restrictive in the nation. This is not a distinction that Iowa wants.
Harold Page-Jamison 
When there is a choice between not helping people in genuine need because of blunt instrument rules which will exclude some honest people, versus allowing a very small number of people to possibly take advantage of a system designed to help people quickly, my preference as a citizen and taxpayer is that we act from kindness not from fear. Please make it easy to get help when people need help, not harder. If you are worried about fraud, there are things you can do after the fact to address that. Dont withhold vital help on the front end out of fear of fraud, all that does is replace an uncertain evil with a certain one.
Michael Judie 
This is ridiculous. A vehicle limit for SNAP benefits serves no purpose, other than to limit SNAP benefits. You want people to work, and be productive members of society? How are they supposed to get to work, when the level of public transportation in this state is ridiculous. Stop trying to withhold help from people when they need it!
Jane Broughton 
I agree with all of the comments, especially the one about being kind to Iowans. We are a part of the world that we are feeding.
cathy glasson 
During one of the most difficult times for struggling Iowans, this proposal makes absolutely no sense. The pandemic has pulled back the curtain on the amount of Iowans who are food insecure. As a nurse, this proposal will hurt those most in need and likely result in creating or exacerbating health issues for children and families who cant access healthy food. I do not support study bill 508.
Kyle Burke 
There are many good reasons why the vast majority of states do not use the asset test for SNAP, but two directly speak to cost savings: (1) Counterintuitively, using asset tests can actually increase the number of SNAP users over time. (2) Asset tests increase administrative burden on states with little change in savings. Adding them together, if your goal is to reduce the cost of SNAP for Iowa well into the future, then HSB 508 will not get you there. There is no need to repeat the asset test experiment here; the general consensus is that won't produce the desired results. The worldrenowned, nonpartisan Pew Charitable Trust gave this wellresearched summary:"Asset limits AKA asset tests return no advantage to the states that use them and expend resources to administer them." Please stop this unproductive bill from moving forward.
Hillary Schofield [Hillary Schofield]
I oppose this bill, HSB 508. As others are mentioning, those who are struggling to make ends meet should not be penalized for finding some amount of footing. People are trying to survive, don't keep pushing them under or steepening the slope. Especially not right now. We need to make getting help easier in this state (and in this country), not harder.
Bethany Jackson 
According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, as of 2015, 43% of Iowas population lives in rural areas. These areas do not have the population density to maintain public transportation, making car ownership necessary. How are we going to encourage young families to stay in Iowa if we make them choose between car ownership and SNAP eligibility?
Douglas Pepe 
SNAP is a vital resource that doesn't currently meet the purchasing amount for Sustainable, healthy, farmersupported nutrition. I believe it needs to be matched with the recognized COLA.Thank you for your consideration.
Amanda Heeren, LISW 
The restriction of families to one vehicle as a means test for eligibility for SNAP benefits is misfeasance at best. Families with more than one eligible driver may need multiple vehicles due to competing needs for transportation. Consider this very common situation: a high school student getting to school and a guardian getting to work at (gasp!) the same time. What will we do if the family must get rid of a vehicle to become eligible for SNAP benefits? What if that family cannot get adequate nutrition because their transportation needs must outweight their nutrition needs? It is common in families of lower socioeconomic status to have multiple vehicles that are of varying degrees of functional status. Sometimes a family vehicle is reliable but does not drive well in the snow, so a supplimental vehicle is purchased (often a cheaper, less reliable vehicle) to get them around when there are seasonal road conditions. Limitations to one vehicle is absurd. The absurd idea is representative of the complete lack of knowledge of the circumstances experienced by many of the constitutents who need SNAP. This policy is uniformed by the needs of the voters who it impacts. The authors of the policy change must assess the needs and circumstances of the individuals who will be impacted by this policy change. It is irresponsible to do anything else. Iowans deserve better.Amanda Heeren, LISWIowa City, IA
Scott Clark [International Workers of the World]
Access to food is a basic human right and anyone who votes to restrict that access is denying Iowans of that right. If any of you are interested in poor folks working instead of starving you probably should have tried protecting workers from death and disease instead of doing the opposite.
Laura Widman 
There is absolutely no reason to make SNAP any more unattainable than it is. Assets that poor Iowans have are almost exclusively necessities, and restricting individuals from being able to access food based off of their need for transportation, housing, etc. is unnecessarily restrictive and cruel.
georgianna klevar 
As a volunteer in a food pantry, I meet with many food insecure people and hear their issues.Many of them are also on SNAP as we can't meet all of their food needs. THey come from all around rural NE Iowa and their car is a life line for them. if owning a decent car will make their assets such that they can't be eligible for SNAP, this will leave hungry children and adults. It will also limit job hunting. However, many people receiving SNAP are unable to work. The Iowa legislature seems to be unwilling to help people with real needs. I wish that legislators who profess a religion would practice it.
Amy Current [ELCA Southeastern Iowa Synod]
Let us be a state that provides every opportunity for individuals and families to have food to eat. Let us be a state that creates opportunities for individuals and families to have access to nutrition easily rather than stacking up barriers and hurdles in addition to daily needs. Let us be a state that celebrates individuals and families, who receive SNAP, and grow in assets and independence rather than using assets as a barrier to SNAP. Let us be a state that assists, welcomes, supports, and advocates for those who are hungry to have food to eat, safe water to drink, adequate shelter, and the means to build toward meaningful work which in many areas of our state requires a vehicle. Please do not vote in favor of asset test to determine eligibility for SNAP in the state of Iowa (HSB 508). Bishop Amy Current, Southeastern Iowa Synod, ELCA
Elizabeth Jorgensen 
Who's on SNAP with two cars? Working families, and almost nobody else. By divesting from working families, this bill hopes to shave a few pennies off the budget. In reality, by pulling the rug out from families in already precarious financial situations, some will fall behind on rent and lose homes and jobs, increasing homelessness and unemployment; others will be forced to move somewhere they can afford to work; and the amount of money a family must earn to live in this state will increase, bringing the real income down.The workload of means testing with such data sources as lottery databases (sorry, which lottery winners are on SNAP currently??) will require an expensive software RFP and hiring another bureaucrat or several, but more importantly, it will make it more difficult for people to actually access the program.This is very poor stewardship of state funds.
Emma Bateman 
Nobody should have to liquidate their assets to feed their families. Can't we help people out without asking them to sell their car and wipe out their savings first?As a taxpayer I like my taxes going towards putting food on tables. I don't want nutrition assistance cut back. If anything, let's expand benefits.
Natalie Harwood 
I am writing to oppose any asset restrictions for SNAP benefits. There is no city in Iowa with truly effective and comprehensive public transport and for a family with more than one adult, having two vehicles might make the difference in the ability of one of the adults to get employment at all. This is cruel, dangerous, and punitive. We should be expanding access to SNAP, not restricting it. SNAP is an incredible program for providing stimulus to grocery stores AND helping Iowa families a double bang for our buck! and nothing should make it harder to obtain.
Amanda Malaski 
Who benefits from making food harder to come by? How will this make Iowa healthier? How will this attract residents to the state? This looks like a solution in want of a problem, and a waste of time and resources. Let people eat.
Sarah Morgan 
People should have food regardless of how many cars they have
Justin Comer 
A family should not be excluded from benefits because they have two vehicles. A car is a requirement to hold a steady job in most of this state, and few families can live on a single income. And anyone who has had to rely on a used car can tell you they are not a sign of wealth.
Joseph Ellerbroek [IBEW 347]
Its so much cheaper just to make it easy for people to get money to spend on food. It is a cruel illusion to think you can somehow teach a lesson to thousands of struggling families by cutting this food resource out of their lives. It wont creat responsibility. It will create chaos that will only make their lives worse, effecting their neighbors, coworkers, extended family, or schoolmates for the worse. If you resent these Iowans, and intend to cause them pain because you think they are of low character, say that directly to the voters and people you represent. Dont hide behind a bankrupt and disproven idea that you can socially reverseengineer through cutting benefits.
Cheryl Herr 
I'm writing to oppose HSB 508. This bill would exclude hungry people from SNAP benefits and harm children in particular. Many couples need more than 1 vehicle to get to jobs or apply for jobs in Iowa, which has many areas without public transport.
Carolyn Lutter 
As a former IA resident, I oppose HSB 508. My husband & I worked in IA for 5 years in mental health. I am a licensed social worker and he is a psychiatrist this bill would devastate the population we help. It does not make sense to punish your citizens & constituents who own 2 cars. Life today requires 2 cars, especially for those in rural IA to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. What statistics and data are you basing this bill on? It seems like unnecessarily harsh biases against those who are obtaining vital services for their lifeblood. Please reconsider your policies with updated statistics and community needs before making such a punitive law.
Aislinn Williams 
Im writing to oppose HSB 508. I came from a poor family who absolutely needed cars to get to jobs. Those cars often do not have much financial value but they are essential for getting to work. Having a backup car enables people to get to work if one car has a battery die or a flat tire. These backup systems are ESSENTIAL to a familys economic stability as they work to get out of poverty. This bill would inevitably take food assistance from people who need all the support they can find. This will also disproportionately affect children. This bill is not only unnecessarily cruel but it is also short sighted.