Sen. Orrin Hatch
, R-Utah, is pushing a new bill that would prohibit the use of welfare cards in casinos, liquor stores, and sex-related businesses. Hatch partnered with Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who he often spars with over policy issues, to author the bill, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Wednesday.
The top two senators on the powerful Finance Committee introduced the legislation after an investigative report in The Los Angeles Times found that welfare recipients withdrew $4 million in benefits at casinos, and thousands more at adult-oriented businesses.
"Misusing funds that were intended to prevent families and children from falling through the cracks is an affront on working Americans across the country and an abuse of taxpayer dollars," Hatch said.
California changed its welfare program after the report to block the use of the welfare cards for gambling or in adult business.
Utah does not currently block welfare recipients from using their cards in such businesses. The state doesn’t allow any form of gambling, but neighboring states do. Curt Stewart, a spokesman for the Utah Department of Workforce Services, said the state would follow any federal rules that restrict the use of welfare cards.
Still, that doesn’t mean the practice will be stopped completely.
"People can use their cards at ATMs so if people want to be foolish, people can be foolish,” Stewart said.
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