SECTION 1. Chapter 18 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2008 official edition, is hereby amended by inserting after section 29 the following sections:-
Section 29A. The Department of State Police or a city or town police department shall conduct an investigation relative to an allegation of fraudulent or wrongful payment or service received from the Department of Transitional Assistance, whoever violates this chapter shall be punished by imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than 2 years.
Section 29B. For the purposes of this section, ?health care provider? shall mean a registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, physician or physical assistant who is a licensed health care provider under chapter 112.
A health care provider who, in his professional capacity shall have reasonable cause to believe that a welfare recipient as described in Chapter 18 is fraudulently or wrongfully accepting payment or service from the Department of Transitional Assistance, shall immediately report such act to the bureau of special investigations and local and or state police department by oral communication and by making a written report within seventy-two hours after such oral communication.
Section 29C. (a) Any person receiving assistance as outlined in Chapter 18 that is found in violation or contempt of an order, judgment, hearing decision or agreement as outlined in Chapter 276 shall immediately have their benefits suspended until said person appears in the court of justice.
(b) The office of probation or the clerk of courts in said jurisdiction shall be required to report these violations to the department of transitional assistance within 30 days.
SECTION 2. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, eligible recipients of direct cash assistance shall be prohibited from the use of direct cash assistance funds held on electronic benefit transfer cards for the purchase of alcoholic beverages or tobacco products. An individual or store owner who knowingly accepts electronic benefit transfer cards in violation of this section shall be punished by imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than 2 ? years or a fine of $1000 or both such fine and imprisonment.
SECTION 3. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, whoever embezzles, willfully misapplies, steals or obtains by fraud any funds, assets or property provided by the Department of Transitional Assistance, or whoever receives, conceals or retains such funds, assets or property for his or her own interest, knowing such funds, assets or property have been embezzled, willfully misapplied, stolen, or obtained by fraud shall, if such funds, assets or property are of the value of $100 or more, be fined not more than $25,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both, or if such funds, assets or property are of a value of less than $100, shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.
SECTION 4. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, recipients of transitional aid to families with dependent children shall not be considered in compliance with the work requirement established under chapter 5 of the acts of 1995 by participating in unpaid internships, unpaid home-schooling of a child, or participating in vocational rehabilitation services. A pregnant woman shall be exempt from the work requirement for not more than the last 10 days of pregnancy except in the instance of a documented medical reason for exemption as determined by a licensed physician. An unemployed recipient of transitional aid to families with dependent children without a documented medical necessity exemption, shall provide documentary proof of a job search commencing within 90 days of after giving birth. No recipient of transitional aid to families with dependent children shall be considered exempt from the work requirement as a result of caring for a child not his or her own and for whom the recipient does not receive benefits. A person over 18 years of age shall not be considered a dependent child for the purposes of this program. A recipient shall be exempt from the work requirement for a period not to exceed 90 days following the birth of a non-family cap exempt child or if the recipient serves as the caretaker of a child excluded by the family cap A recipient shall not be considered exempt from the work requirement due to age prior to reaching age 65. After qualifying for and having received an initial benefits payment, a recipient shall be exempt from the work requirement for not more than 30 days while looking for and starting a qualifying work program activity. A recipient shall not be exempt from the work requirement for performing community service unless the recipient produces documented evidence of the completion of the community service to the department of transitional assistance.
SECTION 5. (a) Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the undersecretary of the department of housing and community development shall make a report detailing recommended regulations to end the practice of housing homeless residents in hotels or motels throughout the commonwealth and the costs associated with said practice. The report shall include, but not be limited to: the recommended guidelines for usage of temporary housing alternatives which provide cost savings to the commonwealth; a timeline to eliminate the practice of using hotels and motels within 1 year of this report, the cost of school transportation from out-of-district emergency assistance placements; the cost of the usage of hotels and motels versus the cost of using shelters; and the availability of unused shelter space not currently under contract by the department. The report shall be submitted to the clerks of the senate and house of representatives and to the chairs of the house and senate committees on ways and means not later than 60 days after the effective date of this act.
(b) Recipients of shelter benefits provided through the program of emergency assistance pursuant to section 30 of chapter 23B of the general laws, shall be placed in hotels and motels only when other shelter units available to the department are not adequate to meet the needs of a recipient of benefits; provided, that a recipient of shelter benefits may be placed in a hotel or motel when the number of shelter units for which the department has contracted is insufficient to meet demand or when such placements are to accommodate a disability, allow placement near a home community or enable a child to continue attending school in such community, or otherwise meet the needs of an eligible family that cannot be met through placement in contracted shelter units.
(c) Any family placed in a hotel or motel shall receive assessment and housing search services within 10 business days of placement and regularly thereafter. When the department places any child under the age of 3 years in a hotel or motel, the department must notify the department of children and families within 24 hours of any such hotel or motel placement; provided further, that the department of housing and community development shall ensure that any such family with a child under the age of 3 shall be provided with a crib for such child upon placement at the hotel or motel; provided further, that the department of children and families shall make an inspection of the room and crib provided to ensure the safety of the child; and provided further, that if the hotel or motel in which any such child under the age of 3 years is placed fails to provide such child with a safe and adequate crib, said hotel or motel may be subject to a fine not to exceed $10,000 per violation.
(d) Prior to contracting with a hotel or motel to provide rooms for families receiving emergency assistance, the department shall notify the local department of health. Within 5 business days of placing a family with a school aged child in a motel, the department shall notify the local school department.
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