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State Senate Passes Public Assistance Integrity Act

An act that limits where Electronic Transfer Benefit cards can be used and what they can be used to buy passed in the State Senate Tuesday.

The Public Assistance Integrity Act was sponsored by Senator Tom Libous to help curb the abuse of EBT cards by prohibiting welfare recipients from using cash assistance to purchase tobacco, alcoholic beverages and lottery tickets.

"For the first time, if you defraud the system, you will be penalized. Also, not just the store owner, the person who is on public assistance will have their benefits pulled for various periods of time," said Senator Tom Libous.

Last year, the bill was passed by the Senate but the Assembly didn't act on the bill. The federal government has mandated each state establish a system of fraud prevention by 2014. 

The federal government could penalize the state by cutting federal funding for cash assistance by 5 percent.

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