MONTGOMERY, Ala.(WHNT)-Are you unknowingly supporting someone’s drug habit? Or maybe even paying for their visit to the nearest strip club or psychic?
State lawmakers say that’s exactly what taxpayers are funding these days due to fraud in Alabama’s welfare system, with new legislation now taking aim at those who game the system.
Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) is sponsoring a trio of bills that would impose strict penalties for welfare abuse, while also implementing new standards for those applying to receive public benefits. A Senate committee gave all three of Orr’s bills the green light earlier this week, which will now move to the floor for a vote in the coming days.
“We need to put a stop to it,” said Sen. Orr. “This money is for families and it’s for children, and folks are taking the children’s milk money and blowing it on things they have no need for.”
SB 116 would prohibit welfare benefits from being used on frivolous items like tattoos, lottery tickets, alcohol and phone calls to psychic hotlines.
SB 115 would require welfare candidates to apply for at least three jobs before their benefits are approved, with the stipulation that those who voluntarily end their own employment would be immediately ineligible for public assistance.
SB 114 would impose penalties as stiff as jail time and loss of funds for those who knowingly lie to obtain public housing and other welfare benefits. Orr said the Alabama District Attorneys Association has endorsed his call on tougher penalties for fraud and abuse.