If two Republicans had their way, people receiving state food and health-care benefits would have their photos put on their cards.

State Representatives John Nygren of Marinette and Howard Marklein of Spring Green proposed an amendment May 6 to the new state budget to require the photos.

They say it would cut down on the kind of fraud demonstrated by a report that Milwaukee County workers used fake Food-Share cards to steal $300,000 in benefits.

Nygren said law enforcement in his area told him about a similar misuse of Food-Share cards there. He says requiring photos on the cards would be a "common-sense" solution but admits the state would have to seek waivers from the federal government.

Deputy State Health Services Secretary Kitty Rhoades favors the photo requirements, but federal rules would make it hard to do. That's because Food-Share benefits can be given to people who are unrelated but eat together, making recipient verification harder to do.

Under the new budget measure, state officials would have until the end of the year to come up with a plan to implement the photos for benefit cards, and the state would begin issuing them next April.

Opponents have said that it would be too expensive to put photos on the thousands of cards for things like Badger-Care and Food-Share. But Nygren says the expense is justified.