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Pickett Pleased with House Advancement of Welfare Reform Bills

A series of bills designed to prevent welfare fraud passed the state House this week, said state Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna), who voted in favor of the legislation. 

“For the past few years, spending in the Department of Public Welfare has been one of the largest expenditures in the state budget, and even though the bulk of money funds programs that are crucial to our communities, there are unscrupulous people in our state who are defrauding the system and taking those dollars out of the hands of people who are truly in need,” said Pickett. “That is why it is imperative for us to put into place strong deterrents and protocols to prevent any more fraud and abuse from occurring within the welfare system.” 

Pickett voted in favor of legislation that would create an Income Eligibility Verification System that crosschecks applicants against 19 different databases to ensure eligibility; increase penalties for welfare fraud; and prevent individuals from benefit shopping by requiring people to apply for benefits in the county of their permanent residence. 

The legislative package is a result of audits performed by Democrat Auditor General Jack Wagner that showed millions of dollars were wasted in welfare programs. 

“Just this week, a woman pleaded guilty in western Pennsylvania to helping defraud nearly $700,000 from the state for a day care she owned. She pretended her children attended the day care during off hours when they were really home,” Pickett said. “These measures, which passed with bipartisan support, clearly show that we will not tolerate the abuse and misuse of taxpayer dollars.” 

The measures which passed the House this week now go to the Senate for consideration.  

Additional reforms in the House Republican WelFAIR (Fairness, Accountability, Integrity and Responsibility) initiative would require drug testing for applicants convicted of a drug felony within the past five years; prohibit the purchase of tobacco products with Access cards; require photo identification on welfare benefit cards; implement new guidelines and restrictions on the existing Medical Assistance Transportation Program; and assist people in moving from welfare to work with job transition loans, rather than the current grant program.  

These bills are currently in various House committees or on the House calendar for consideration in the near future. 

State Representative Tina Pickett
110th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact:  Jennifer Keaton

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