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Public hearing held for SNAP asset test bill

If the bill becomes law, it's estimated that around 2,800 Iowans will lose their SNAP benefits because of the asset testing requirement.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa legislators are considering some major overhauls to the state's SNAP benefits program, and some citizens attended a public hearing Tuesday to make their opinions known. 

Senate File 494 requires that anyone receiving SNAP benefits completes an asset test in order to confirm their eligibility.

That asset test would cut off benefits for any family with total household assets worth more than $15,000. 

The bill's supporters said it'll help reduce fraud in the SNAP program.

"These are tax dollars being issued to individuals erroneously. We have a responsibility as elected officials to ensure that tax dollars are being responsibly allocated," Sen. Jeff Edler, R-State Center, told Local 5 in late March.

But critics worry it puts additional barriers in the way of families seeking help.

"I'm all for streamlining processes, but can we stop making it harder for people to receive benefits," said Iowan Barb Prather. "This bill will deter eligible Iowans from applying for SNAP, and will continue to stretch the capacity of local communities such as with food banks."

The bill passed the Iowa Senate on March 22 with a 34-16 vote. All Republicans voted in support, while all Democrats voted against. The House appropriations subcommittee voted 3-2 to advance the bill on March 28. 

If the bill becomes law, the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency estimates that approximately 2,800 Iowans would lose their SNAP benefits.

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