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Sen. John Proos: New laws to help stop bridge card abuse

Published 11:16pm Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bridge cards are designed to provide assistance for basic needs to those who truly need the aid to make ends meet and feed their families.

Unfortunately, according to the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS), more than $87,000 was withdrawn from Detroit’s Motor City Casino ATMs using bridge cards between July 2009 and July 2012.

To protect taxpayer dollars and ensure state assistance is used as intended, I strongly supported new laws to prohibit bridge card users from making cash withdrawals at casinos and banning prisoners from getting assistance.

Public Act 197 of 2012 helps stop taxpayer dollars from being used for gambling by working with ATM suppliers to ensure recipients cannot access cash benefits from bridge cards at ATMs located in casinos.

A second new law, Public Act 281 of 2012, makes it illegal for prisoners to have bridge cards. The measure will ensure that DHS continues to perform monthly checks to see if applicants are incarcerated and ineligible for assistance. If a bridge cardholder is found to be in prison, the access to benefits is terminated.

The two reforms join legislation signed into law earlier this year to prevent large lottery winners from receiving public food assistance. Those laws were prompted by news reports about a Bay County man who was still using food stamps nearly a year after winning a $2 million jackpot on “Make Me Rich.” Before the bills were signed, it was also discovered that a 24-year-old woman, who won a $1 million lottery jackpot on the same lottery game show, was receiving $200 per week in food aid.

We owe it to the southwest Michigan families who rely on this aid and to all taxpayers paying the bills to ensure our limited resources are used wisely.

These common sense measures will help reduce fraud and make sure state aid goes to those who truly need it and not to prisoners, gambling addicts and $1 million jackpot lottery winners.

Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, represents the 21st District, which includes Berrien and Cass counties and most of Van Buren County.

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