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HHS Committee Divided on Welfare Reforms

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Augusta – Following a committee vote today on the welfare proposals brought forward by legislative Democrats, Senator Eric Brakey (R-Androscoggin), Senate Chair, today spoke to the fact the proposals supported by Republicans on the committee make the changes Maine people have been asking for.

The Republican report for LD 1097 includes current penalties for intentional abuse of benefits, including a year’s suspension of benefits if it is proven that someone intentionally used cash welfare benefits to purchase alcohol, tobacco or lottery tickets. The Republican proposal also prohibits the use of Maine EBT cards outside Maine or New Hampshire.

“Republicans are making sure that we are reforming welfare in the way Mainers have asked for – real, true, reform. We have been working to get the purchase of alcohol, tobacco and lottery tickets with welfare benefits banned for years now,” said Senator Brakey. “But, as we do so, we should not be weakening penalties for such violations as Democrats are looking to do. Maine’s taxpayers don’t want to be on the hook for someone’s Saturday night party. They want our safety net to be helping vulnerable citizens.”

Today’s votes also included a party line vote on LD 1268, with Republicans voting against the Democrat proposal to create new welfare programs, which would cost taxpayers an estimated $25 to $35 million.

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