Concord, NH – Senate Finance Chairman Jeanie Forrester, R-Meredith, issued the following statement today on the introduction of her legislation (SB203) designed to curb abuses and improve oversight of the state’s electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card program. The bill was heard by the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday:
“The 2013 audit of the state's EBT program as well as anecdotal reports of improper benefit use have made it clear that additional statutory oversight is necessary to ensure our low-income assistance program funds are being used responsibly. Senate Bill 203 is a continuation of legislative efforts to provide this oversight that began with language in HB2 restricting the locations EBT cards can be used.
“SB 203 takes the next step by clearly restricting the purchase of products like alcohol, tobacco, or lottery tickets with EBT funds. Additionally, the legislation addresses the concern that approximately 78% of assistance is accessed through ATM cash withdrawals, meaning the state has almost no ability to ensure those dollars are spent legally. By restricting the amount of daily cash withdrawals and requiring beneficiaries to retain receipts for cash purchases, I am confident this legislation will help the state to curb abuses and provide the department of health and human services with the additional information they need to better manage the program in the future.
“I appreciate the feedback provided on the language from the Department, beneficiary advocates, bankers, and other stakeholders that would be involved with implementation. I am confident that we can work together to ensure this legislation is carefully crafted in a way that protects taxpayers without micromanaging or providing undue burdens on program beneficiaries.”