<<Home Niagara Falls Reporter Archive>>

Ceretto, Maziarz, DiPietro Call on Liberals In the State Assembly to Pass Public Assistance Integrity Act

Assemblyman John Ceretto (R,C,I-Lewiston) called on the Assembly Majority to pass the Public Assistance Integrity Act, a bill that would prohibit the use of Electronic Benefit Transfer cards at casinos, liquor stores, and adult entertainment establishments.

It would also help prevent public assistance benefits from being used to purchase alcohol, tobacco and lottery tickets.

While Food Stamps are subject to specific federal guidelines for what they can be used to purchase, New York State law does not currently limit how or where Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Cards can be used. Currently, persons on welfare are free to use their EBT cards at ATMs inside casinos or strip clubs or for drugs, or other illicit purposes.

Said Ceretto, "This is a bipartisan, common-sense bill that strengthens our public assistance system. I call on the Assembly to pass it and protect both public assistance recipients and hard-working taxpayers."

The federal government has set a Feb. 22 deadline for states to comply the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 which requires states to states to pass public assistance abuse prevention measures or forfeit federal temporary assistance aid.

The Public Assistance Integrity Act was passed by the NYS Senate last year. It was not acted on by the Assembly Majority and the governor made no plea to Speaker Sheldon Silver to get it to the floor.

Enactment of the Public Assistance Integrity Act would bring New York into compliance with this law. If the bill is not passed this year, New York State could stand to lose up to $122 million in federal aid per year.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo included some elements of the Public Assistance Integrity Act in this year's executive budget proposal. The governor's plan would ban recipients from using EBT cards at casinos, liquor stores and strip clubs, but stops short of banning the purchase of beer and cigarettes with EBT cards at grocery and convenience stores.

"The time for action is now," State Senator George Maziarz (R-Newfane) said. "This should be a no-brainer, but we have been waiting for two years for the Assembly to pass this bill."

Another reform measure being considered is the attempt to put an end to "welfare tourism."

Every year, individuals from other states come here to take advantage of New York's generous welfare system.

Assemblyman David DiPietro (R-East Aurora) introduced a bill that establishes a one-year residency requirement for Medicaid assistance. Another aspect of his plan is to establish drug screenings as a pre-qualification for receiving public assistance.

DiPietro says, "If you have to pass a drug test to gain employment, I believe you should have to pass one to receive public assistance. This encourages those seeking assistance to get clean and sober."

These measures are seen as DOA in the Silver-run liberal-controlled State Assembly.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Feb 18, 2014