Meeting Public Comments

Subcommittee meeting and times are as follows:
A bill for an act relating to public assistance program eligibility verification.
Subcommittee members: Jeneary-CH, Boden, Sunde
Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Time: 12:30 PM - 1:00 PM
Location: RM 102, Sup. Ct. Consult
Names and comments are public records. Remaining information is considered a confidential record.
Comments Submitted:

Luke Elzinga [Des Moines Area Religious Council]
My name is Luke Elzinga and I am the communications and advocacy manager for the Des Moines Area Religious Council. Last year, our food pantry network assisted nearly 40,000 people in Greater Des Moines. We are currently registered as undecided on this bill, but we have some concerns. I want to note that my comments are focused on just one of the public assistance programs, SNAP or food assistance.The background on this bill why are we even considering this?In 2019, Iowa was issued a $1.8 million fine from the USDA for having a SNAP payment error rate that was above the national average 10.8%. That has been the justification for this bill (SF389).Since that fine, DHS has a new director, and Director Garcia testified in another subcommittee meeting that Iowas SNAP payment error rate is now at 6.58%.It seems to me that this problem is being earnestly addressed by DHS, and this bill is unnecessary and carries an additional cost. Why would we pay a thirdparty vendor to fix a problem that doesnt exist?SNAP use in Iowa.I also want to make clear that right now, the number of people enrolled in SNAP in the state of Iowa is at its lowest level in 13 years.SNAP responded the way it should during a pandemic when people were out of work, we saw a spike, but it has gone down by 50,000 people since then from 338,000 in May 2020 to 288,000 in December 2021.What this bill would do.There is a laundry list of databases to run against. What is included here that isnt already covered by the system DHS uses?Were concerned about the inclusion of immigration services and homeland security. US Citizens may have undocumented members of their household who ARE NOT applying to receive benefits, would this include even household members who are not applying? Could stifle applications and hurt nutrition for children.Also concerned why were including IPERS in the database but not other retirement accounts? Retirement accounts should be exempt from any of this.Concerned about the impact here when paired with asset test. Exemption for one vehicle, but not more than one. Having access to a vehicle can make the difference between being employed or not. Childrens savings accounts, etc.In closing, we believe this bill is unnecessary and would be an expensive solution to a problem that no longer exists. SNAP enrollment is at the lowest level its been in 13 years. Please, stop vilifying poor Iowans who are struggling to feed their families.
Linda GORKOW [Iowa Food Bank Association]
The additional cost of this bill is of great concern. DHS is managing SNAP with continual improvements. Iowans in need of SNAP must jump through many hoops. What is the true benefit of this bill? Iowa's money spent on large corporations that are not living and working for Iowans? This bill seems to be a force additional cost with no true benefit to Iowans. More funds going to large companies out of state to oversee a program to help Iowans. This is not consistent with Iowa values. We need to work with DHS. Please learn more and see the of the fantastic changes Director Garcia has put into place and plans for Iowans into the future.