For Immediate Release
AUGUSTA - State Rep. Sharri MacDonald (R-Old Orchard Beach) has sponsored legislation introduced by Governor Paul LePage to curb abuse in Maine's welfare system. The bill, LD 1822, is entitled "An Act To Increase Integrity in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program" and would make it illegal for benefits to be expended on tobacco, liquor, imitation liquor, gambling, lottery tickets, or bail.
"This is a much-needed measure to bring some sanity to Maine's welfare system," said Rep. MacDonald, who owns and operates MacDonald's Garage and Beach Convenience Store in Old Orchard Beach. "I have seen all sorts of welfare abuse at my store and my friends and neighbors in town frequently tell me they witness the same. It is currently perfectly legal to use TANF benefits to purchase things like alcohol and cigarettes. My bill would simply put an end to that."
The bill is one of four welfare reform measures proposed by Gov. LePage and Republican state lawmakers. Rep. MacDonald presented the bill before the Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee during its public hearing on Tuesday.
The bills have faced opposition from Democratic members of the legislature, but Rep. MacDonald says she will work to reach across the aisle and convince her colleagues that all of the bills, including her own, are desperately needed.
"All of the constituents I speak withDemocrat, Republican, or Independentare concerned about the welfare fraud and abuse they see nearly every day," said Rep. MacDonald. "So far, it just seems to be my Democratic colleagues in the Legislature who are content with the status quo and don't want to see reform."
Rep. MacDonald is encouraging Mainers to contact their state legislators and urge them to pass her bill to increase the integrity of Maine's welfare system. After a vote in the HHS Committee, the bill will move to the full House and Senate for votes.
"I think we all want to give the truly needy a helping hand, but when the welfare system is too loose, it discourages able-bodied people from working and takes scarce resources from the people who really need them," added Rep. MacDonald.
Maine House Republicans
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