LANSING, Mich.—Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, co-sponsored two bills introduced in the Michigan Senate on Thursday that aim to crack down on misuse of cash assistance money.
“Cash assistance is meant to provide a temporary safety net for families who fall on hard times,” Schuitmaker said. “That money is not meant to be used on gambling, alcohol or tobacco. Hardworking taxpayers should not have to support this type of waste and abuse.”
Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, sponsored the bills.
“Bridge Cards should be used to feed hungry families and provide the necessities of life. Lap dances and liquor are not necessities,” said Jones.
Senate Bills 554 and 556 would prohibit cash assistance from being withdrawn from ATMs located at horse racing tracks, liquor stores and adult entertainment establishments.
Family Independence Program (FIP) benefits, also known as welfare, are distributed electronically to a recipient’s Michigan Bridge Card account. Users can make purchases by using the card electronically like a debit card, or they can withdraw cash from ATMs.
The majority of Bridge Card users only receive food assistance, which provides no option to withdraw cash. Approximately 200,000 individuals are currently eligible to receive FIP cash assistance.
A similar law passed last year prohibits cash assistance from being withdrawn from ATMs located in casinos. In 2010, it was discovered that more than $87,000 in cash assistance was withdrawn from ATMs at one Detroit casino.
The bills have been referred to the Senate Committee on Banking and Financial Institutions.