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State Rep.: Welfare Limiting Bills Are “Common Sense Legislation”

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LANSING (WWJ/AP) – A state representative from Macomb County called legislation passed by the Michigan House, which limits the use of welfare assistance, a “common sense” decision.

Under legislation approved Wednesday by the Michigan House, welfare recipients could not use their state-issued debit cards to draw cash from ATMs at casinos or buy alcohol, tobacco and lottery tickets.

State Rep. Anthony Forlini, R-24th District, commended the passage, saying people who are in need should not have access to Bridge Card funds while visiting a casino.

“Casinos that have ATMs on their property pose too much of an allure to people who are in desperate situations,” Forlini said in a written statement. “They might use their Bridge Card to draw out $100 thinking that they are going to double it, and that is just too much of a temptation to allow the use of a card designed for food assistance.”

Some key bills in the package were approved 108-0 and next go to the Senate for consideration. The multi-bill package relates to the use of Michigan Bridge cards, which are used like debit cards for state food assistance and cash programs.

Other issues addressed in the legislation include removing Bridge Card recipients who have outstanding arrest warrants and requiring the Department of Human Services to review incarceration records monthly and deactivate the bridge card for anyone who is in jail.

Residents getting state assistance with food or cash could still gamble and buy liquor and tobacco, but could not use their state-issued cards funded with taxpayer money to do it.

Monthly food assistance in Michigan is based on income, how many people are in their household and other criteria. Funds are made available on a debit card swiped through electronic reader when buying groceries. There are an estimated 1.3 million of the cards in circulation across the state.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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