New Mexico House OKs ban on welfare benefit card use at bars

Posted at: 02/06/2013 2:01 PM
Updated at: 02/06/2013 2:04 PM
By: The Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The House has unanimously approved a measure to prohibit welfare recipients from using their electronic benefit cards to make purchases or cash withdrawals at liquor stores, bars, casinos, strip clubs and other adult entertainment businesses.

Rep. Nate Gentry, an Albuquerque Republican, said Wednesday that HB 12  is needed to comply with federal requirements and the state could lose $5 million in federal aid if the restrictions aren't enacted.

Welfare-to-work program recipients receive cards similar to a debit card for the amount of their cash assistance. The cards can be used at ATMs or at retailers.

The Human Services Department has identified $44,000 in transactions last year at businesses covered by the proposed ban. New Mexico currently prohibits use of benefit cards at tribal casinos but not at horse racing track casinos.

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