More states pursue restrictions on welfare money
By USA Today
Published: Monday, July 9, 2012, 5:54 p.m.
More states are enacting or considering laws that prohibit people who get welfare cash from spending it on liquor, cigarettes, strip clubs, gambling and guns. Ten states have passed such laws, and at least 14 are considering them, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Under a new federal law, all states must prevent the use of cash benefits in liquor stores, gambling establishments and adult entertainment businesses by 2014. States that fail to establish policies face cuts in federal support.
Welfare recipients use debit cards to buy things or get cash at ATMs. A report by the House Ways and Means committee cited news reports in eight states about people with welfare debit cards withdrawing thousands of dollars from ATMs in casinos, liquor stores and strip clubs.
Last year, 4.4 million people received cash benefits ranging from $200 to $1,000 a month, paid by federal and state governments. The federal government share was more than $16.5 billion.
Food stamps pay for food, and welfare cash is supposed to be for nonfood necessities, but states find it difficult to police.
“Until we figure out how to program the machines, it's tough to stop someone from taking cash out of an ATM and buying liquor,” said New York state Sen. Thomas Libous, a Republican from Binghamton. His bill to restrict the use of cash welfare passed the state Senate in June but has not been introduced in the Assembly.
In Louisiana, a stalled bill would have barred ATM cash withdrawals with welfare debit cards and use of the cards in strip clubs or to buy liquor or cigarettes. It would cost $400,000 to reprogram the cards and machines.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kansas public school funding unconstitutional
- ‘Holy grail of guitars’ for sale in April auction
- Nuke plant safety improving, watchdog says — with cautions
- Deputy accused of illegal stops
- Border Patrol ordered to stop shooting at vehicles
- Miranda read to sex assault accuser, 14
- Accuser takes stand during court-martial
- Traffic cameras rejected in Ohio ruling
- Actor dies quick 1,000 deaths
- El Nino could bring relief to U.S.
- Former National Security Agency contractor Snowden’s leaks to cost billions, take years to fix