Bill Streamlines Food Stamp Transactions

The U.S. Senate has approved a bill establishing national electronic transaction standards for food stamp benefits.

The Electronic Benefit Transfer Interoperability and Portability Act was passed last week with the goal of streamlining interstate commerce involving food stamp benefits electronic transactions.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.), requires the U.S. Agriculture Department secretary to ensure that systems that "provide for the electronic issuance, use and redemption of coupons in the form of electronic benefit transfer cards are interoperable, and food stamp benefits are portable, among all states" by no later than Oct. 1, 2002. The federal government will incur costs of up to $500,000 for each fiscal year in each state to make it happen.

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