State senator Tom Libous authored the “Public Assistance Integrity Act” to protect taxpayer dollars and help ensure public assistance is put to proper use.

Under current law, there are few restrictions on what qualifying families may purchase. Some families use electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards for alcohol, gambling, cigarettes, lottery tickets and even strip club visits.

Libous said his bill won’t be a perfect fix, but it will help stop over $2 billion in welfare abuse in New York State.

The bill will allow policing of the EBT card program by imposing fines on stores that allow public assistance recipients to spend the case on items like the aforementioned items. The bill also would take away the violator’s public assistance benefits for up to three months, and if the crime is committed a second time, the benefits will permanently cease.