By Andrew Keller, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
LANSING, MI (WNEM) -
State senators approved more restrictions on welfare recipients, limiting where Electronic Benefits Cards can be used.
On Tuesday, the Senate approved bills preventing Bridge Cards from being used at certain kinds of businesses.
"It should be going to the kids for their food and their meals and making sure the little ones are fed," said Rose Henderson, who believes something should be done.
State lawmakers are taking steps to make sure that is exactly what happens and they're cracking down on Bridge Card holders who spend taxpayer cash on things that aren't necessities. The Michigan Senate approved bills that would prevent ATMs in liquor stores, horse tracks or strip clubs from spitting out money to anyone who receives cash assistance.
"It needs to go for what it was invented for. Not for booze or cigarettes or things like that," said Karen Neuchterlein, who also believes changes are needed.
People who get cash assistance typically receive more than $500 a month on their cards to pull money from ATMs and pay for things like child care, rent or other bills that debit cards typically can't pay for. Lawmakers want to restrict ATM usage in those businesses to prevent the money from being used to pay for things like booze.
"I don't want to spend my money on somebody who's going to waste the money," said Lance Richardson.
The Senate Fiscal Agency estimates blocking ATMs in liquor stores or other banned establishments under this legislation could cost the state at least $120,000 a year, but some of the people TV5 spoke with said they believe that's a small price to pay to keep card users from abusing the system.
"It's for their food. Their kids need to eat," said Neuchterlein.
This isn't a done deal yet. The bill now moves to the state House, and we're told the House is considering its own bill.
Copyright 2013 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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