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Patty Ritchie, a state senator from New York, introduced a bill last week takingĀ aim at the state's food stamp program (called SNAP, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), writing thatĀ "the purpose of SNAP is to promote good nutrition."

"At a time when our state and nation are struggling with an obesity epidemic, it is critically important that taxpayer-funded programs help low-income consumers make wise and healthy food choices," Ritchie wrote in the bill's memo.


Ritchie's bill proposes to prevent people from using their SNAP benefits from purchasingĀ "luxury items like high-end steaks and lobster," as well asĀ energy drinks and "decorated cakes," to name examples listed in the memo. With this bill, Ritchie says she is primarily concerned with promoting the "health and well-being" of New York residents, saying that obesity and its adjacent causes amount to $147 billion in annual national spending.

AsĀ The News JournalĀ points out, bills policing the limits of welfare have been a popular practice among lawmaking Republicans; in the past, the Senate has passed bills restricting people from using their EBT cardsĀ to withdraw money from strip clubs and liquor stores.

Liberal advocates in the state are unhappy with the bill. Via theĀ Journal:

Jeremy Saunders, co-executive director of Vocal New York, a group that advocates for low-income New Yorkers, said the bill is "ridiculous."

"Our food-stamp system is set up for people that do not have enough access to food to be able to get food," Saunders said.Ā "This is a Republican attempt to make it appear that poor people use tax dollars to buy steakĀ and lobster."


Ritchie, the bill's author, considersĀ herself a small-government conservative.

Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.