Senate Panel OKs Restrictions for Welfare Cash

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Associated Press Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- A Florida Senate committee has approved a bill that would prohibit welfare recipients from using debit-like electronic cards to access cash benefits at strip clubs, liquor stores and gambling establishments.

The bill (SB 1048) sailed through the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee on a 9-0 vote Monday.

Supporters said the debit-like cards are used for food stamps and other forms of assistance.

Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, said the bill is aimed at making sure the cards are used for public-assistance benefits that provide necessities.

The bill cleared another Senate committee earlier in the month without opposition.

By: Mike Springer
April 4, 2013

Tallahassee, FL-In a 12 to 6 vote, House Bill 701 cleared the House Health and Human Services Committee. The bill clamps down on people using their electronic benefit transfer cards or- food stamps-at places like strip clubs, casinos and liquor store. It's a problem supporters of the bill say has cost the state nearly a million dollars.

"We're here to make sure when our tax dollars are hand-up, it's a hand-up to help kids, to keep a roof over the parent's head and not to help somebody get their personal entertainment," said Rep. Jimmie Smith.

But some wonder if there may be some unintended consequences from the bill. Opponents say those who work at these places and use their EBT card to buy a meal or snack could be in trouble. And others worry the bill will cast those who use the cards in a negative light.

" I think unfortunately what's going to happen is we are going to label people who have to use these EBT cards as strange people who like to go to casinos and strip joins and visit liquor stores," said Rep. Mark Pafford.

If passed, the bill takes effect October 1.

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