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Senator Timilty Cosponsors EBT Reform Bill

Senator Timilty joins fellow lawmakers in effort to reform the electronic benefit transfer system.

(PRESS RELEASE)

Senator Jim Timilty (D-Walpole) announced Thursday that he joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers in cosponsoring legislation to reform the electronic benefit transfer system by implementing stricter oversight and broader restrictions on how recipients are allowed to use their cards and direct cash assistance.

This bill comes after a special commission, authorized to study the EBT system after reports of widespread abuse of the cards, offered recommendations to lawmakers about how best to address the problem.

“The food stamps program was first implemented to help families with limited incomes meet their basic needs,” said Senator Timilty.  “This update to current laws will help combat the number of abuses that have become so prevalent lately, ensure responsibility of recipients, and help us uphold the integrity of the program.”

Included among the provisions of the bill would be restrictions that would prevent recipients from using EBT cards and direct cash assistance at stores to purchase alcohol, tobacco products, lottery tickets, and firearms. It would also prohibit the cards from being used at spas, health clubs, and other non-essential venues.

Violators of these provisions would face an initial three month disqualification for first offenses and permanent disqualification for any additional offenses.

Violators would also be required to reimburse the Department of Transitional Assistance for the amount of purchases spent.

The bill imposes hefty penalties on businesses prohibited from accepting food assistance money and requires that they post signs as a reminder.  The bill goes further by also restricting recipients from using their benefits outside of Massachusetts and its bordering states.

The initiative was filed by Republican Representative Shauna O’Connell of Taunton and Democratic Representative Russell Holmes of Boston, who both served on the special commission charged with looking into the EBT system.

Steve Feinstein April 15, 2012 at 07:40 PM
It would be nice to believe that Senator Timilty is in favor of these reforms because of a heartfelt concern for reducing fraud and cleaning up the system. The fact that his opponent in the Senate race--Jeff Bailey--came out in favor of these reforms weeks ago had no influence on the honorable Senator Timilty's actions, we can be quite sure. Actually, if Senator Timilty was so concerned about waste and abuse in the State benefits system, he could have INITIATED the legislation himself, instead of waiting for a freshman House member of the other party to do it, and then checking the political waters to make sure it was safe for him to dive in.
Paul Buckley April 15, 2012 at 11:06 PM
Wait until Uncle Joe hears about this!
jeff gatsby April 16, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Seems like Timilty is now trying to make himself look good since Jeff Bailey is in the race. Too little too late Mr. Timilty. Jeff Bailey looks like the guy now.
Michael Thomas April 16, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Steve ... couldn't have said it better. I remember Jeff talking about this kind of reform a while ago!
Lee Ann April 16, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Proactive! Proactive! Proactive! It appears that Senator Timilty's recent effort to back EBT reform is reactive, rather than proactive....rather like a knee-jerk reaction to Jeff Bailey's vocal concern over the grotesque abuse in our State benefits system. Wouldn't you prefer a leader by true definition of the word---one who takes action immediately, before abuse and fraud become commonplace, as opposed to a man who waits to react to public pressure? True leaders are proactive, and, as such, often prevent situations from becoming as ludicrous as the EBT abuse has become. Jeff Bailey is proactive. James Timilty is reactive. Hmmmm........not such a tough choice when you think about it.
Robert Bartlett April 16, 2012 at 05:02 PM
I sure hope he is serious about supporting this. I dont think we need to be as strict as telling people what types of foods they can buy or requiring drug tests, but some things need to be banned such as getting cash out of an atm or going to a strip club or casino with your ebt card. http://www.foodstampbalance.net/

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