Monday, July 30, 2012

Senate Approves GOP Caucus Amendment Requiring EBT Compliance Report

The Department of Transitional Assistance will be required to report to the Legislature semi-annually on its efforts to investigate and enforce compliance with the recent EBT reforms included in the Fiscal Year 2013 budget, under an amendment offered by the Senate Republican Caucus and adopted by the Senate today.

Responding to reports of EBT cards being used for questionable purposes, the Legislature recently endorsed several restrictions on the types of items and services that can be purchased using an EBT card. These restrictions included a ban on the purchase of alcohol, tobacco, Lottery tickets, adult entertainment products, tattoos and vacation services.

After trying unsuccessfully to remove some of these restrictions, Governor Patrick indicated over the weekend that he would sign the changes, but said that enforcement would not be “feasible,” and also indicated that he would not enforce them.

“The laws we pass have to mean something and they have to have the integrity that comes with enforcement and compliance,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “If the governor believes there are challenges or obstacles to enforcing EBT reform, then this amendment will provide him with a vehicle to report them to the Legislature so that we can take necessary actions.”

The reporting requirement – sponsored by Tarr, Assistant Minority Leader Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), Minority Whip Richard Ross (R-Wenham) and Ranking Senate Ways and Means Republican Michael Knapik (R-Westfield) – was adopted as part of a supplemental budget bill. The provisions are still subject to the approval of the House of Representatives.