Legislation that would close a federal loophole in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as the “food stamp program,” was approved by a House committee Thursday.

House Bill 2017, by state Rep. Sean Roberts, would make those who have more than $5,000 in liquid resources (bank accounts, cash, bonds, etc.) ineligible to receive SNAP benefits.

There are two ways to qualify for SNAP:

1) Currently, most individuals can qualify for food stamps if they have less than $2,000 in liquid resources or have an income at a certain percentage of the federal poverty level. This limit is raised to $3,000 for those households with a member who is disabled or over 60.

2) If they receive Supplemental Security Income or are eligible for other state aid programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, they also qualify. In Oklahoma, an individual qualifies for these state aid programs based on income. Liquid resources are not accounted for in this criterion. For example, a person could have $20,000 in their bank account and still receive benefits because these programs don’t limit cash-like assets.

“There are a few things we as state legislators can do to reduce the federal deficit, which is out of control,” said Roberts, R-Hominy. “States have some options in the administration of SNAP, and exercising this option helps reduce our federal spending. We can’t continue to borrow money from China and expect our children and grandchildren to be burdened with our debt. My intent here is not to take aid away from those in need, but to eliminate spending on those who have sufficient liquid resources to provide for themselves. For example, if someone were to win the lottery, they would still qualify for food stamps under the current system.”

The legislation passed out of the Appropriations and Budget Public Health and Social Services Subcommittee with a vote of 7-0 and will now go before the full Appropriations and Budget Committee.