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Money for Toilet Paper
Is that really good government?

Senators Deb Patterson (D-Salem), Sara Gelser (D-Albany) and Representative Paul Evans (D-Monmouth) introduced SB 717, which provides an additional $10 per month to recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to purchase personal hygiene items.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federally funded program operated through the Department of Human Services (DHS) that helps low-income families buy healthy foods from qualifying, participating sellers. It does not cover hygiene items. SNAP benefits help more than half-a-million Oregonians, and more than 3,000 sellers participate. In order to receive SNAP, a person must meet work requirements unless you are physically or mentally limited, in treatment, in training/school, pregnant or have young children.

The fiscal impact is estimated at $50 million just for the benefit. But what wasn’t discussed in the hearing was the logistics and cost of administering $10. Governor Brown drug her feet when President Trump told states to supplement unemployment with $300 claiming it cost more than that to administer. It was an obvious exaggeration, but how much will that $10 cost and what will it buy that nonprofits aren’t providing?

Senator Gelser relayed a human-interest story during the hearing where she talked to a 15-year-old girl who had to shop-lift tampons. When that was addressed last year for girls and women in custody, in some cases these girls had to hand over used tampons and sometimes to a male person to get a new one. No one bothered to ask what that has to do with this bill, but it seems to be the way to stir up emotion for a bill.

This bill is a prime example of insufficient information to make a good decision. Writing a bill involves details for administration according to Notre Dame Law Review, which this bill lacks. We are seeing more of these laws being passed that leaves regulatory details to some unelected group to do as they please. This entire bill reads:

SECTION 1. (1) As used in this section:
(a) “Recipient” has the meaning given that term in ORS 411.806.
(b) "Supplemental nutrition assistance" means benefits issued under ORS 411.825
(2) In addition to supplemental nutrition assistance, the Department of Human Services shall issue to each recipient $10 per month to purchase personal hygiene items.
(3) The payments under subsection (2) of this section shall be made from General Fund appropriations by the Legislative Assembly that are paid into the Department of Human Services Account.

It isn’t an issue of handing a needy person $10 for toilet paper, but when that $9.95 24-pack of toilet paper costs taxpayers $25, is that really good government?


--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-02-05 07:51:42Last Update: 2021-02-02 21:58:36



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