Welfare benefit restrictions approved

The Louisiana House endorsed a set of restrictions on the use of welfare benefits Tuesday night.

The House voted 97-0 for legislation that would ban spending the cash assistance at such places as liquor stores, gambling establishments, businesses that offer adult-oriented entertainment, commercial body art facilities, nail salons, jewelry stores, amusement parks, bail bond companies, cruise ships, psychic businesses.

Also off limits would be any establishment where persons under age 18 are not permitted to enter.

House Bill 1176, sponsored by state Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond, covers cash assistance provided through the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program and the Kinship Care Subsidy Program.

FITAP recipients would have their cases closed for violation of the restriction - 12 months for a first offense, 24 months for a second offense and permanent closure for a third violation.

Retailers would also be banned from participating in the off-limits transactions and face civil penalties for violations - $500 for a first violation, $1,000 for a second and $2,500 for the third and each violation thereafter.

No debate preceded HB1176’s passage. The measure heads to the Senate for debate.