State restricts where EBT purchases can be made
BATON ROUGE- The state banned the use of EBT cards at various stores, mostly ones that do not primarily sell food and are mainly for amusement.
"The rule is aimed at preventing electronic benefit transfer (EBT) transactions at specific types of stores, vendors and establishments which sell goods or provide services determined to be inconsistent with the purpose of the cash assistance programs and not necessary for basic needs," the Department of Children and Family Services said in an email Thursday about its new rule.
State Representative Chris Broadwater said he received complaints about how people were using funds from the program and will create new legislation to support the rule and allow DCFS to fine retailers who are not following the proper guidelines.
"My constituents raised some concerns about where cash benefits are being used," said Rep. Broadwater. "By working with DCFS to craft necessary legislation, I hope that we can meet the spirit of intent of the program while also ensuring that state and federal tax dollars are being used appropriately."
EBT cards can no longer be used at:
-Any retail establishment that provides adult-oriented entertainment in which performers disrobe or perform in an unclothed state for entertainment purposes or adult bookstores or adult paraphernalia and any sexually oriented business
-Any nail salon
-Any tattoo, piercing, or commercial body art facility
-Any jewelry store
-Any amusement or video arcade
-Any bail bonds company
-Any nightclub, bar, tavern, or saloon
-Any cruise ship
-Any psychic business
-Any establishment where persons under age 18 are not permitted
"We want to ensure that these federal assistance benefits are used appropriately and not at locations that do not help a family meet basic needs," said DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier. "This rule will not affect families who currently use the program as intended, which is to provide food, shelter and clothing for families."
In February 2014, there were 3,479 households receiving FITAP assistance totaling nearly $670,000. In order to receive FITAP, you must be a single or disabled parent with children. The average payment in Louisiana is $192 per month. There were also 2,437 households receiving $1.02 million in KCSP benefits, with an average payment of $419 a month.
Users who violate the rule will have their benefits stopped for 12 months on the first offense, 24 months on the second offense and permanently on the third offense.
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