LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Michigan lawmakers have completed a plan aimed at ensuring big lottery winners can’t continue to get public support such as food stamps.
Bills headed to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature would require lottery officials to notify the state’s Department of Human Services about winners of $1,000 or more.
The legislation also would put into law a requirement for asset tests to help determine eligibility for some public assistance programs in the state, and lottery winnings would factor into those tests.
The asset tests provision drew the most opposition from lawmakers Thursday, although some asset tests already are used in Michigan through state department policy.
Michigan lawmakers began the effort last year after learning that a 59-year-old Bay County man continued to use food stamps despite winning a $850,000 lump sum lottery prize in 2010. He told state officials about his wealth but was allowed to temporarily keep his Bridge Card because lump-sum windfalls at that time were not counted as regular income under the program.
This year, it was also revealed that a 24-year-old Lincoln Park continued to use her Bridge card despite winning a $700,000 lump sum before taxes. She is no longer receiving the assistance.
Sen. John Moolenaar, a Republican from Midland, said it was “incredible” that lottery winners had been able to continue using food stamps after they hit the jackpot.
“This solution will help ensure that such an outrage never happens again,” Moolenaar said in a statement.
But some opposing the legislation are worried that putting asset test requirements into state law would make decisions about assistance eligibility too inflexible.
“It could ultimately affect thousands of children,” said Rep. Maureen Stapleton, a Democrat from Detroit.
Stapleton also questioned how the state could monitor casino and other gambling winnings not covered by the state lottery.
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