Republicans abandon ATM restrictions for welfare EBT cards

Minnesota EBT cards are used by welfare recipients to access their benefits.
Minnesota EBT cards are used by welfare recipients to access their benefits.

A measure that would have prevented welfare recipients from withdrawing more than $20 a month using their EBT cards has died a quiet death during budget negotiations at the Legislature.

The bill, introduced by GOP Rep. Kurt Daudt in March, was ostensibly aimed at preventing government assistance from being used for things like buying cigarettes, booze, tattoos, and lottery tickets. Because as everyone knows, those are the only things poor folks ever spend their money on.

But the net effect of this proposed piece of social engineering would have been severe restrictions on where welfare recipients could have shopped, because Electronic Benefit Transfer -- EBT -- cards aren't taken at all grocery stores, and card holders wouldn't have had enough cash to pay their bill.

There's no doubt that some folks have abused their EBT privileges, but the bill wasn't based in any "common sense or fiscal responsibility," Angel Buechner of the Welfare Rights Committee told us at the time. "It appears to be based on knee-jerk, ignorant bias and a desire to stigmatize the poor."

Now, even though Daudt's bill had a raft of Republican support, the ATM restrictions are missing from the bill the Health and Human Services budget just released by a conference committee.

Previously: Minnesota GOP wants it to be illegal to carry cash if you're poor

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