House Speaker Bill O’Brien was joined at a news conference by Jackie Whiton. She was fired from a Peterborough convenience store after blocking a customer's attempt to use welfare benefits to buy cigarettes. O’Brien hailed Whiton and said the state needs to take greater steps to ensure that welfare benefits don’t go towards cigarettes, alcohol or possibly certain foods; O’Brien mentioned lobster.
"We have to look at where we draw the line and where we draw it and where ti makes sense for the purpose that we are trying achieve, which is people eating decently even though they don’t have enough money but not gaming the system."
Like other states, NH issues welfare recipients Electronic Benefits Transfer cards, which carry restrictions, and cash benefits that can be used on anything. A new federal law prohibits people from using the cards in liquor stores, casinos and strip clubs. Speaker O'Brien says New Hampshire needs to consider baring recipients from making cash withdrawals, period.