If you’re a recipient of public assistance and frequent liquor stores, strip clubs or both, whipping out your EBT card will be shunned and frowned upon for residents in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts State Senate announced it passed an amendment to its Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) assistance program over the Memorial Day holiday.
The amendment was outlined in the statement below:
“Amendment #597 prevents cash assistance use in liquor stores, casinos and strip clubs, and these establishments are also prohibited from accepting EBT cards. It also requires the MBTA and each regional transit authority to ensure that they can accept EBT cards for the purchase of public transportation fares. Furthermore, it makes sure the Department of Transitional Assistance works toward providing benefits in the form of vendor payments for rent and utilities when a determination is made that cash assistance funding is not being used properly. Finally, it directs the inspector general to conduct a data match survey to uncover inconsistent or contradictory information to that provided by cash benefit recipients.
In addition to the measures in the adopted amendment, the Senate budget contains several provisions directed at preventing public benefit fraud and inappropriate use, including a new State Police Fraud Unit, the codification of the crime of food stamp trafficking, a new assessment placed on recipients for the cost of lost cards, and the prohibition of cash assistance for pornography, firearms, tattoos, piercings, gambling, fines, fees and bail.
All of these measures are in addition to changes the Senate passed last year which prevented the purchase of alcohol, tobacco and lottery tickets with cash assistance.
Cash Assistance was created by the federal government in the Social Security Act of 1935 and continues today as the program called TANF, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. It provides financial assistance to children in low-income households or to families who have low or no income.
In 1996, President Clinton negotiated with Congress to pass the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act which restructured the previous program to emphasize work programs and transition from public dependency. In 2004, all states transferred cash assistance and SNAP benefits to EBT cards, replacing the coupons and checks that they used to use.”
This measure is an extension of new restrictions already in the budget for EBT purchase of guns, pornography, tattoos and body piercing.
EBT cards and SNAP benefit members can use the EBT cards to buy food or make a cash purchase at a store, it’s original intent. In addition to withdrawing money from an ATM, it can be used to get cash back after a purchase. This extra step will allow party animals a little more time to think about the wasteful spending and abuse of public funds for extracurricular activities.
Other states are sure to follow suit once they receive approval from the federal government to implement new restrictions.