Bill would limit EBT card use

COVINGTON -- State Rep. Andy Welch, R-McDonough, has announced the introduction of House Bill 138, that would limit the use of Electronic Benefit Transfer, or EBT, cards.

The legislation would place congressionally mandated restrictions on the use of EBT cards that are provided through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

"HB 138 is designed to reduce fraud and misuse of TANF funds for purposes that in no way benefit the families and children who desperately need public assistance," said Welch.

HB 138 would prevent TANF recipients from using EBT cards at certain retail establishments, including liquor stores and adult entertainment establishments. It would also prevent TANF recipients from using their EBT cards to withdraw cash from an ATM or retail establishment.

In addition to limiting where EBT cards may be used, HB 138 limits what an EBT card may be used to purchase. The legislation would prohibit EBT cards from being used to purchase lottery tickets, alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, pornographic materials, firearms and ammunition, vacation services, tattoos or body piercings, jewelry, salon services, gambling and gift cards. HB 138 would also prohibit using an EBT card to pay fines, fees, bail or bail bonds to any government entity.

HB 138 also requires the Georgia Department of Human Services to establish a toll-free phone number and a website for reporting violations of these provisions. The toll-free phone number and website would have to be operational by December 1. Retail establishments that accept TANF payment would also be required to post a sign at each register listing all the products prohibited from being purchased with EBT cards, along with the phone number and website for reporting violations. These establishments must also keep receipts of all purchases made with EBT cards for 180 days.

If enacted into law, any retail establishment found in violation of any part of HB 138 would be subject to penalties established by the Georgia Department of Human Resources, which may include fines or a suspension or prohibition from accepting TANF payments. The department would also be empowered to reduce TANF benefits by 25 percent to any recipient who violates this legislation for the first time and to terminate benefits upon a recipient's second violation within a time period to be determined by the Department of Human Resources.

Finally, this legislation requires the department to take necessary steps to establish and enforce policies aimed at preventing improper use of EBT cards.

TANF is a federal block grant program that allows states to provide cash assistance through the issuance of EBT cards to qualifying low income families with children. The program was created by the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act in 1996 to provide temporary financial assistance and help beneficiaries find employment. Congress attempted to prevent abuse of the program by approving the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. This federal legislation requires states with TANF programs to establish policies and procedures that prohibit the use of benefit cards at certain establishments and for certain purposes. It also penalizes states that do not comply with the Act. HB 138 was introduced to bring Georgia into compliance with this federal statute.

Welch represents the citizens of District 110, which includes portions of Butts, Henry and Newton counties.


dennistay53 1 year, 8 months ago

You mean right now you can use these cards to buy all this stuff the bill is trying to outlaw? Body piercing,lottery tickets, alcohol, tobacco etc? Amazing, no wonder they don't want to work. The bill should also outlaw expensive Nike tennis shoes. No wonder we have $16 trillion dollars of debt in this country.


will 1 year, 8 months ago

This is one bill that should be passed right away but you watch the liberals will say its not fair these people deserve more. If I owned a retail establishment I would never take EBT cards, period. Drug test all welfare recipients and if they fail be done with them forever. GET A JOB


jrobin 1 year, 8 months ago

They are stealing this money from hard working americans and giving it to none deserving people. I demand they stop this wreckless conduct know.I see them buying lotto tickets and other junk stuff in conveniant stores. this is the most expencive place to waste our money. please help to push to get this stopped.


John 1 year, 8 months ago

EBT cards should be used only to buy items that you can make meals from scratch - flour, salt, meat (no prime ribs, filet mignon or lobster allowed), poultry, milke, orange juice, oat meal, grits, vegetables, peanut butter, bread and the like but not all those frozen food dinners you just pop in the microwave that are loaded with sodium & other stuff that just ain't good for you. If you have an EBT you have time to cook and no need to go to the mall. To help folks get started when the qualify for EBT - issue them a Betty Crocker cook book per household or similar at no charge & if the loose it charge them for a replacement. Seems fair to me.


The_Civil_Newtonian 1 year, 8 months ago

I dare say the State would run afoul with the Feds if this limiting legislation was so enacted. These are their voters you understand. This entitlement is only the iceberg's tip. Good thing you working blokes don't know about all the other myriad of entitlements...


John 1 year, 7 months ago

Go to the state of Texas & see what they offer on "entitlements" - you will see a significant difference & life isn't as good for the "non-workers". Correct me if I am wrong but Texas (even though they were governed under 5 different flags) is still part of the United States and must follow the same federal laws & rules as Georgia, don't they????


56vick 1 year, 7 months ago

President Obama has promissed us that he would take care of us and our hispanic brothers .You republicans need to realize that you lost the election .Now we democrats will show you how to handle things . See you in four years at the polls. Thanks and have a good term .


dennistay53 1 year, 7 months ago

We did not lose the election in Georgia. We have a Republican governor and republican controlled house and senate, so yall will have to go to a democrat state to get all the freebies Obambie promised you.


John 1 year, 7 months ago

Obama's checkbook is only as big as the working taxpayers contributions & the credit card charge account he has with China - "watcha' all y'all gonna do when the well runs dry"?


John 1 year, 7 months ago

56vick, Time to wake up and read & UNDERSTAND the position resonsibilities of this President and any other past and future President. Here is just a short course that you might be able to understand but you need to dust off your notes from HS American Government or do a Google search and dig deeper. The President of the United States is just that. He is elected to this office and is sworn in to represent all the citizens of this country, which is currently 330 million and growing, regardless of race, creed or religious belief not just a select group or groups.


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