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General Laws

Section 5I. (a) As used in sections 5I and 5J the following terms shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:—

“Access device”, a card, code or other means of access that can be used, alone or in conjunction with another access device, to obtain payments, allotments, benefits, money, goods or other things of value, or that can be used to initiate a transfer of funds under the federal Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, 7 U.S.C. § 2011 et seq., or regulations issued pursuant to the federal Food and Nutrition Act of 2008.

“Direct cash assistance”, any manner of cash assistance provided by the department of transitional assistance including, but not limited to, temporary aid to families with dependent children, wherein the assistance is provided directly to the recipient, rather than a vendor.

“Electronic benefit transfer card”, a card that provides benefits through an electronic benefit transfer.

“Electronic benefit transfer transaction”, the use of a credit or debit card service, automated teller machine, point-of-sale terminal or access to an online system for the withdrawal of funds or the processing of a payment for merchandise or a service.

“Vacation services”, furnishing interstate or foreign travel services solely for the purpose of recreation including, but not limited to transportation, lodging and travel agent services; provided, however, that vacation services shall not include travel related to: a personal or family emergency, the death of a family member, employment, medical treatment, appearance before a court of law, court-authorized parental visitation and such other categories of travel which may be designated from time to time by the department as non-recreational travel.

(b) No person shall knowingly use or accept direct cash assistance funds held on electronic benefit transfer cards or access devices for the purchase or sale of the following services or products: alcoholic beverages as defined in section 1 of chapter 138; lottery tickets; tobacco products as defined in section 1 of chapter 64C; visual material or performances intended to create or simulate sexual conduct or sexual excitement as those terms are defined in section 31 of chapter 272; firearms and ammunition as defined in section 121 of chapter 140; vacation services; tattoos or body piercings; jewelry; for gambling as defined in section 2 of chapter 23K or for the payment to the commonwealth of or any political subdivision thereof of any fees, fines, bail or bail bonds ordered by a court.

(c) Any eligible recipient of direct cash assistance who knowingly makes a prohibited purchase in violation of this section shall reimburse the department for such purchase and, for the second offense, shall be disqualified from the direct cash assistance program for a period of 2 months and, for the third offense, shall be disqualified from the direct cash assistance program permanently; provided, however, that the department shall only disqualify an eligible recipient after notice and a hearing pursuant to section 30A.

(d) the department shall submit semi-annual reports detailing enforcement and violations of the section. The report shall include, but not necessarily be limited to, the number of alleged violations reported, the number of alleged violations investigated, the number of violations found, the amount received for reimbursements for purchases made in violation of this section, the number of 2 month disqualifications, the number of permanent disqualification notices, hearings, and permanent disqualifications, and further specify actions taken to improve the implementation of this section and limit the number of eligible recipients who knowingly make a prohibited purchase in violation of this section. The reports shall be filed with the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate, with the first report to be filed not later than March 15, 2013.

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