Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pennsylvania House Looks to Set Rules on Use of EBT Cards

The Pennsylvania House holds a hearing today on H.R. 1948, a bill that would create a standing body to oversee EBT in the Commonwealth.

The bill would create the "Electronic Benefits Transfer Card Management Program," which would set rules and regulations on what could be purchased with EBT cards. The EBT Card Management Program would also have oversight authority on the use of the cards.

The bill is aimed at cracking down on fraudulent use of cash assistance, as well as use of cash assistance for buying things inconsistent "with the purpose of public assistance," according to Rep. Tim Krieger (R-Delmont), the bill's sponsor.

Under the measure the Department of Public Welfare, which administers the cash assistance programs and EBT in the Commonwealth, would be required to develop "electronic controls" to detect misuse of TANF benefits through the EBT program, according to a press release issued by Krieger.

Pennsylvania joins a growing list of states that have passed, or are considering, legislation that would regulate the use of state-issued EBT cards. The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, passed by Congress on February 17, requires states to prevent the use of TANF funds in liquor stores, casinos and adult entertainment businesses.  

The bill provides regulatory authority for DPW to determine what types of purchases are acceptable with cash assistance, and to make sure such purchases are consistent with the program's "mission of encouraging self-sufficiency," says the bill's sponsor.

Pennsylvania distributes approximately $200 million in cash assistance each month.

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