A house committee heard testimony Wednesday on a bill that would restrict where the state’s low-income residents can use EBT cards.
The bill would ban people from using EBT cash benefits at businesses that primarily engage in tattooing and body piercing. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Charles McMahon (R-Rockingham), says the ban would also extend to smoke shops and future medical marijuana dispensaries.
"We are not here to use government as a weapon," Rep. McMahon told the House Committee on Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs. "We’re here to use it as a tool and to help our fellow citizens who do need assistance. The record shows they do follow the rules."
McMahon says there would be an exception for people with a medical marijuana prescription.
No one spoke out against the bill, and even advocates for the poor voiced support.
"While we may not fully agree with you for the need for this legislation, we believe that what is proposed is fair and does not create additional burdens for those in need, those that run the program, or the businesses that serve them," said MaryLou Beaver, the director of Every Child Matters.
The state distributed $28,417,584 to 12,476 households in fiscal year 2014. Most of that money went to rent payments. Investigating fraud cost the state more than the money recovered by those investigations.
EBT cards cannot be used in casinos, liquor stores, and adult entertainment venues.