The number of states enacting or considering laws that bar welfare recipients from using their benefits on liquor or cigarettes is growing, USA Today reports. Many of the measures also bar spending on gambling, guns or strip clubs.
Ten states have passed such measures, and they are under consideration in at least 14, according to the article. While welfare cash is supposed to be used for non-food necessities, states find it difficult to enforce the rule, because welfare recipients can use their benefit cards to get cash at ATMs, the newspaper notes. “Until we figure out how to program the machines, it’s tough to stop someone from taking cash out of an ATM and buying liquor,” New York State Senator Thomas Libous told USA Today.
A new federal law mandates that all states must prevent the use of cash welfare benefits in liquor stores, adult entertainment businesses and gambling establishments by 2014. States face cuts in federal support if they do not comply.