Bill would require Social Security card for benefits

Coloradans applying for government services won’t be allowed to provide merely their Social Security numbers along with other forms of identification to qualify for benefits.

Under a bill that passed a legislative panel on a 5–4 party-line vote Thursday, they would have to provide their Social Security cards, too.

The measure is aimed at preventing illegal immigrants from getting taxpayer-funded benefits. But the four Democrats on the nine-member House State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee opposed the bill, saying it made little sense.

Current law already requires applicants to provide a Social Security number and several forms of identification, and that information is matched against a federal database to see if it’s valid before benefits are approved, they said.

A recent audit of that law also showed local and state agencies were complying with it, so there is no evidence anyone is receiving services who shouldn’t, they said.

But Rep. Cindy Acree, R-Aurora, who introduced HB 1149, said there is a problem in some local and state agencies partly because there is no consistency in what identifying documents are allowed.

“Identity theft has become a huge issue, not just for employers but for all kinds of state government services,” Acree said. “We’re proving citizenship (with existing law) but not necessarily (that) the person in possession of these documents are who they say they are.”

Acree’s answers didn’t satisfy Democrats, who said adding a Social Security card does nothing to identify anyone.

Additionally, Democrats said the measure went against several tenets of normal GOP stances because the bill places an unfunded mandate on local governments, grows the size of government and adds another regulation on businesses.

A fiscal-impact statement of the bill showed the measure would increase workloads for local governments, cost the state about $100,000 over the next two years and add one full-time position to the state’s payroll.

The bill also requires businesses to verify the identity of new employees, but it doesn’t specify how. Current law allows, but doesn’t mandate, employers to use a federal database to see if the Social Security numbers provided by new hires are valid.

Democrats argued that few people carry, much less keep their Social Security cards. As a result, many Coloradans, including seniors and the disabled, would have to apply to the U.S. Social Security Administration for a new one.

Because of increases in state expenses, the bill heads to the House Appropriations Committee.


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