Rep. Greg Morris, R-Vidalia, wants to cut back entitlement programs to shrink the number of Georgians on welfare and food stamps. In 2014, he sponsored legislation requiring drug tests for certain food stamp recipients and photos on food stamp cards. BEN GRAY / BGRAY@AJC.COM

State lawmaker seeks dramatic cuts in welfare, food stamps

This week I wrote about how Georgia won’t be requiring photos on food stamp cards. But that’s just a proxy for the real battle underway to dramatically scale back the food stamp program in Georgia.

State Rep. Greg Morris wants to dial back the state’s social safety net significantlyby requiring Georgia adopt only the bare minimum standards to qualify for federal welfare and food stamp funding.

Earlier this year, Morris, R-Vidalia, filed House Bill 1087, which would require legislative approval for the state to request “any increase in eligibility or benefits provided above the federally required minimum levels of participation” in either program. The bill was filed relatively late in the legislative session and did not receive a hearing, but Morris said he is ready to take it up again next January.

“The fundamental issue is that there are too many people” receiving benefits, said Morris, chairman of the House Banking Committee.

Morris has tried to trim the food stamp rolls before. In 2014, he sponsored House Bill 772, which required recipients suspected of using drugs to submit to urine tests and for all recipients to have their photos put on the EBT cards they use to access benefits.

About 1.6 million Georgians are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, roughly 16 percent of the overall state population, according to the state Division of Family and Children Services. About half of food stamp recipients are children.

The food stamp program brings $2.8 billion in annual federal aid to the state, with an average monthly benefit about just under $130 per person.

Although HB 772 passed, Gov. Nathan Deal’s administration quickly shelved the drug testing aspect of the bill on advice from Attorney General Sam Olens.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned the photo requirement has been scrapped as well. Find out why by clicking here.

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