Senator Libous: Bringing integrity back to public assistance

By Brandi Bailey

February 4, 2014 Updated Feb 4, 2014 at 9:34 PM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) State Senator Tom Libous pushes to get the Public Assistance Integrity Act signed into law for the third time.

Libous introduced the bill in Albany Tuesday afternoon. The federal government has given states until February 22 to come up with a plan to prevent fraud.

Otherwise hundreds of millions of dollars in public assistance funding will be lost.

Senator Libous wants the state's plan to include tighter restrictions on public assistance Electronic Benefit Transfer cards which can be used at an ATM or as a debit card at a store. The bill would make it illegal to use EBT cards to buy cigarettes or at liquor stores, strip clubs and casinos.

"This is about opportunity. I want people who need to have food stamps to get back into society, to get back on their feet to get those food stamps and use the cash benefit for the items that they should use them for," Libous said.

Libous stresses that tens of millions of dollars have been lost to fraud.

The Public Assistance Integrity Act passed again in the Senate Tuesday. Libous is calling on the Assembly to bring it up for a vote this session.