AUDIO AND POLL

LePage blasts feds for denying photo ID requirement for EBT card users

Posted March 01, 2013, at 11:51 a.m.
Last modified March 02, 2013, at 6:09 a.m.

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Gov. Paul LePage
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AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage will use his weekly radio address Saturday to rail against the U.S. Department of Agriculture for denying his request last year to require Electronic Benefits Transfer card users to show photo identification.

LePage called the Department of Agriculture’s denial “shocking,” according to an advance copy of the radio address provided Friday by LePage’s office.

“Many commercial credit and debit cards now include a customers’ photograph on the card as an enhanced security measure and retailers nearly always ask for ID before accepting checks,” said LePage. “Adding a security feature that is common in the private sector is a reasonable step to ensure that food supplement benefits paid with public dollars that are spent wisely.”

LePage argued that the federal Food and Nutrition Act already allows for a photo to be placed on EBT cards, which are issued to low-income people for the purchase of food. He said there is “no functional difference” between that and required a separate photo identification at the point of sale.

“The same goal is achieved either way,” said LePage. “That’s why the denial is so disturbing.”

LePage also attacked the USDA for neglecting to notify his office or the Maine Department of Health and Human Services about the rejection last week before members of Maine’s congressional delegation and the media knew about it. That followed an earlier, similar incident involving the U.S. Department of Labor.

“Once could be an accident, twice may be a coincidence, but three times is a pattern,” said LePage. “That’s why I have written to the Obama administration asking if Washington would be kind enough to send us these letters before sharing them with everyone else. … The federal government must be held accountable for these serious mistakes in protocol and common courtesy.”

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