NY Bill Prohibits Welfare Recipients From Spending Benefits on Alcohol, Cigarettes

A bill passed by the New York Senate would prohibit welfare recipients from spending their benefits on alcohol and cigarettes. The bill, which passed 56-3, also bans spending of benefits on gambling and strip clubs.

In February, President Obama signed a law that requires states to restrict how the cash portion of social services is spent, or else they will lose 5 percent of funding for the welfare program known as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. In 2013, New York will risk losing $125 million, The Wall Street Journal reports. Republican Senator Thomas Libous, sponsor of the bill, said the state must restrict spending by welfare recipients whose benefits are linked to debit cards, in order to conform with the new federal law.

The “Public Assistance Integrity Act” also would ban the withdrawal of cash from Electronic Benefits Transfer cards at automatic teller machines (ATMs) in casinos, liquor stores and adult entertainment clubs and bars. The article notes that prohibiting the purchase of tobacco, alcohol and lottery tickets would be difficult to enforce. The ban on cash withdrawals would be easier to enforce because of its paper trail.

Senator Bill Perkins, one of the few senators to vote against the measure, said it unfairly targets the poor. “It’s a prejudice, I think, about poor people that we are seeing represented more than any statistical or study of behavior,” he said. “If they have evidence that there’s a rash of that, I’d like to see it.” He said the bill wouldn’t allow a poor mother to withdraw money to buy milk if she used an ATM in a banned establishment.

Other states have banned welfare recipients’ spending on certain items, including alcohol, tobacco, guns, gambling, lottery tickets and adult entertainment.

The bill now goes to the state Assembly.

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    April 18, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    This law really does nothing to control what benefit cash is spent on, it limits getting cash from an ATM in prohibited places, but once you have cash it is cash and good luck proving what it was spent on. The only way to control what the card buys is to eliminate getting cash at all and that would not really work either, people could buy permitted items and resell them for cash. In other words once again NY and the Fed are passing laws that are sound and fury signifying nothing. This law cannot really be enforced,do nothing to help anyone that really needs it and encourages the belief that being poor is a lifestyle choice or evidence of immoral character. What does this remind me of OH the Irish Famine where “Irish were starving to death at the very time that rich stores of grain and fat livestock owned by absentee landlords were being shipped out of the country. The food was produced by Irish hands on Irish lands but would not go into Irish mouths, for fear that such “charity” would upset the free market, and make people lazy.” This attitude killed millions of men women and children, those who could escape came to America and their descendants today (YES I mean PAUL RYAN) display the same attitude towards poor in the US that caused the death of so many of his ancestors.

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    July 1, 2012 at 11:20 AM

    As I see it maybe if you all feel this way that you have a right to restrict spending, then why don’t you restrict your hands and mouths and god like eliteness off the people all together, there are some that say no abortion, some that say no suicide, some that say we are Christians and we want to help you, some that tear families apart, and there are some that need to stay out of other folks business altogether and stop trying to run other people’s lives and then denying them what they need, if they steal off of you call the police if you can prove it, if they hit you don’t shoot them call the police and report them, if you don’t like the way they act, the way they think, the things that they do, stay away from them, if they are in the ditch dying whose business is it? One can use any excuse they want to muddle in other folks lives, but then they don’t like having to pay for that, they do have to pay for that, and they do have to or should have to do it with dignity and good will, especially anyone calling themself a Christian.

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    Another concerned citizen

    June 21, 2012 at 8:58 AM

    If the mother needs milk for her child she can use her EBT card to buy it and doesn’t need to take cash out to make the purchase! I am not someone who is against Temporary Assistance if it’s used properly. This bill is absolutely necessary!

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    Concerned Citizen

    June 20, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    Perhaps welfare beneftis should be restricted to the purchase of rolled oats, brown rice, broccoli, kale, lean meats, eggs, nonfat dairy products and foods formulated for infants.

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