Lawmakers Seek To Shoot Down Trading Of EBT Cards

November 22, 2015

As state lawmakers move forward with measures to expand where and how people can carry handguns, they don’t want Floridians trading government food aid to get firearms.

People found swapping state food-assistance benefits for firearms or drugs would face tougher penalties, under a bill that cleared its first legislative committee .

The Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee unanimously supported the bill (SB 218), filed by Sen. Travis Hutson, R-Elkton. Hutson said the measure is needed as Florida is one of 10 states where trafficking involving Electronic Benefits Transfer, or EBT, cards has become a problem.

“I’ve heard from our state attorneys and assistant state attorneys, where they’ve gone into individuals’ homes and seen drugs, firearms and stacks of EBT cards,” Hutson said. “Their thought process is, this is happening. It is a problem. But we don’t give them enough tools in their tool belts to identify what they can do with the trafficking of these EBT cards.”

Hudson’s proposal would make it a first-degree misdemeanor to trade the benefits from EBT cards, better known as food stamps, for firearms, ammunition, explosives, controlled substances, cash or considerations other than eligible types of food.

A House bill (HB 105), sponsored by Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Inverness, also attacks the underground trading of EBT cards. It would go further than the Senate bill by making an initial arrest a third-degree felony for possessing two or more EBT cards that have been issued to other people or to attempt to sell one or more of the cards.

The penalty would also include a six-month mandatory sentence of community service spent with a non-profit that distributes food to the needy. Smith’s bill goes before the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee on Wednesday.

In 2013, the Legislature approved a law that prohibited EBT cards from being used at strip clubs, liquor stores and gambling establishments. During the 2013 session, several Democrats called the Republican-backed proposal political posturing, noting that the state Department of Children and Families already had the ability to shut off EBT cards from being used at such facilities.


15 Responses to “Lawmakers Seek To Shoot Down Trading Of EBT Cards”

  1. Jcellops on November 25th, 2015 6:03 pm

    I think that this proposed bill falls drastically short and I can’t figure out why. Apparently, this bill would only target those who trade EBTs for “controlled substances” like methamphetamine, hydrocodone, dilaudid- NOT “street drugs” like crack, pot, crystal meth, cocaine, ecstasy, etcetera. I don’t understand why those extremely prevalent “street drugs” were omitted from this bill- that’s totally ridiculous, I don’t want MY taxes funding EBT cards that are traded for ANY drugs and then, NOT be penalized!!! That’s Horse CRAP… And, a 1st degree misdemeanor is a laughable slap-on-the-wrist on top of it!

  2. Henry on November 23rd, 2015 9:56 pm

    @Robert on entitlements, I couldn’t agree more. Especially when it comes to corporate welfare in subsidies and the uber rich paying essentially no taxes while forcing the working poor to have to get food stamps and medicaid in order to scrape by being that they don’t get paid a living wage.
    As far as entitlements go, how far should we go in getting rid of them? Should we make all roads toll roads? Pay Law Enforcement and the Fire Department only if we can afford their services?
    What about the children of Veterans who were KIA? Should we allow their kids to collect Social Security until they are 18 or should we just make those kids get out and work for it?
    There are many social programs that do a lot of good and we need them to help our society function as a society. For sure there are some bad apples in the basket, but there are also really good apples trapped in really bad baskets who need help and should get it.
    We need to be careful in our efforts to prevent fraud that we aren’t preventing help to people who need it and should get it.

  3. Bufford on November 23rd, 2015 4:56 pm

    Gaming the system has been going on for many years in this country. Three generations living off of welfare handouts is the same as theft.

  4. No Excuses on November 23rd, 2015 8:35 am

    Social Security is NOT an entitlement. It’s something I’ve earned and paid into for working at a JOB for the last 32 years.

    I may be wrong, but I think the SS “entitlement” Robert is talking about is SSI for people who are disabled. Most who collect this need it and I’m happy to see them get it. There are some, however, who game the system and get a “check” when they are perfectly capable of holding down a job, but choose not to.

    Shame on them for that as well! Properly used benefits only help, not hurt. Misuse of the benefits hurts ALL of us!

  5. Niknak50 on November 23rd, 2015 7:16 am

    As I’ve said before, do away with the cards, and bring back the commodity houses. I doubt you would see guns for peanut butter.

  6. Gregory Boyd on November 23rd, 2015 7:00 am

    First of all, this sounds like better than what is in place currently. I’m all for the more strict version. This way when the cops bust the dealers it’s one more charge.
    Secondly, to clarify SS is something you earn by working. You don’t just get the same check amount as someone else just cause you turn retirement age.
    Third, student loans are not a handout. They are a loan that is payed back. If not, there are consequences such as ruined credit history, seizure of assessts, and attachment to any future earnings. Future earnings including inheritance, lottery winnings and such

  7. Don on November 23rd, 2015 6:47 am

    Robert,please explain to us why you think the money taken from each of our paychecks for social security and medicare are “entitlements”

  8. SRSforever on November 23rd, 2015 5:15 am

    I’ve been on benefits for the correct purpose when I couldn’t provide everything I needed for my child. I also used students loans to better our lives and be able to provide for my family without assistance. People like Robert are lucky they have been blessed to never needed “a handout” but please think and don’t generalize all people misuse assistance.

  9. Robert on November 23rd, 2015 4:43 am

    We need to get rid of all entitlements! Social security, medicare, medicaid, food stamps, student loans,, all of it! People MUST pay their own way. The Founding Father are rolling in their graves seeing all of these handouts.

  10. Jane on November 23rd, 2015 2:21 am

    So here is a question….what about stolen EBT cards? Who gets burned? Do we refuse to re-issue EBT cards to the people who sold them? If so when they are stolen how is this addressed? This has long been a problem where drugs/alcohol is involved. I am not really sure how this new law will help.

  11. Sage 2 on November 22nd, 2015 5:31 pm

    It just “shows to go you” those that take advantage of a system designed to help people…are looking to game the system anyway they can and generally do without fear.
    Can we all say Fraud, Crook, Criminal…welfare cheat?
    Shame on ‘em!!!!

  12. Terri Sanders on November 22nd, 2015 5:24 pm

    First penally?Take away their cards.And don’t start with “what about those hungry kids”If the parents are willing to trade stamps for ANYTHING other than food..they are not fit to be parents…

  13. Bob C. on November 22nd, 2015 5:04 pm

    Surely these criminals would be “Offended” and claim they were “Profiled” and singled out because of their economic / social status and other reasons they are picked upon by the taxpaying-law abiding peoples.

  14. Tessy on November 22nd, 2015 11:02 am

    It really seems to me, our Lawmakers, could figure out if they limited the time any one could collect these benefits to like 6 months, and put money into helping them find work, childcare or getting on disability, money would be saved and less people would need these. If a person doesn’t want to find employment, then let them figure out how to live. Too many hand outs and no hand ups in this country. I don’t mind my tax dollars helping someone out but I did not sign up to support someone being lazy or to support their bad habits.

  15. willis on November 22nd, 2015 6:51 am

    Seems to be a system open to abuse where people are willing.

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