4 public assistance reform bills to be debated - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

4 public assistance reform bills to be debated

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The bills could change how assistance is distributed and how many funds are allowed in Alabama. (Source: MGN Online) The bills could change how assistance is distributed and how many funds are allowed in Alabama. (Source: MGN Online)

Four new legislative bills could change the landscape on how government assistance is distributed, fraud claims are prosecuted and what funds are allowed for in Alabama.

Senate Bill 63 is prefiled in Montgomery. This bill would require anyone trying to sign up for government assistant that has a felony drug conviction to take a drug test.  State Senator Arthur Orr is a co-sponsor of the legislation. Orr said the bill is different from legislation in Florida that a Federal judge recently tossed out that required everyone seeking government assistant to take a drug test. Orr said the Alabama legislation is constitutional because it limits drug tests to only those with felony drug convictions.

"If they're spending their money on drugs, certainly they have enough money to spend it on food and necessities of life," said Orr.

Orr is sponsoring three other pieces of legislation that would reform Welfare and other social programs. One bill would mandate that anyone trying to receive public assistance first seek out employment at at least three different workplaces.  Another bill would further penalties for anyone caught illegally selling an EBT card. The third bill would restrict Temporary Assistant for Need y Families or TANF funds from being used to purchase alcohol, tobacco or tattoos. Orr said the bill would also limit where TANF funds can be withdrawn from.

"The bill would outlaw ATMs that would accept EBT cards in places like bars, strip clubs, and casinos to prevent individuals from having easy money all at the expense of the taxpayer," said Orr. 

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