Thursday, February 21, 2013

HB 1577: Welfare Payments Aren't for Vice

Virginia House Bill 1577 incorporates a few similar bills whose purpose is to discourage recipients of "Temporary Assistance to Needy Families" from spending the said "assistance" on liquor, tattoos, gambling, or strip bars. The version that was unanimously voted into law is credited to Delegate Wilt.

In case anybody out there counsels welfare recipients, or works in a restaurant that serves alcohol, here are the very words:

"Recipients of TANF benefits pursuant to this chapter shall not access TANF cash benefits through use of electronic benefit transaction (i) for the purchase of alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, lottery tickets, or sexually explicit visual materials as defined in § 18.2-374.1; (ii) in any transaction in any (a) government store established for the sale of alcoholic beverages, (b) establishment in which pari-mutuel wagering or charitable gaming is conducted, or (c) establishment in which tattooing or body-piercing, as defined in § 54.1-700, is performed for hire or consideration; or (iii) in any establishment that provides adult-oriented entertainment in which performers or other individuals connected with the business appear nude or partially nude."

I'm not finding a great deal to like in this week's bill reading, but I do like this one. And I would like to extend the benefits of its moral guidance to all the recipients of taxpayers' money. It might be hard to enforce, but wouldn't we all be better off if we had a law to the effect that elected officials and government employees shall not use their wages for the purchase of alcohol, tobacco, lottery tickets, etc. etc. etc. If the President wants to smoke tobacco, or other things, let him pay for cigarettes with money earned from private employment, like anybody else who draws a check on funds taxed from the working citizens. A law to that effect might, for instance, have ensured that the madly popular Boneta Bill would have been enacted into law in its original form, and the detestable Senate Bill 1279 would have been thrown out of the legislature...