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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts


Whereas, The deferred operation of this act would tend to defeat its purpose, which is to establish a special commission, therefore it is hereby declared to be an emergency law, necessary for the immediate preservation of the public convenience.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same as follows:

Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, there shall be a special commission to study and report on the use of electronic benefit transfer, or EBT, cards. The commission shall consist of the commissioner of transitional assistance, or a designee; the inspector general, or a designee; 2 members of the house of representatives, 1 of whom shall be appointed by the minority leader; 2 members of the senate, 1 of whom shall be appointed by the minority leader; a representative of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts; and a representative of the interests of benefit recipients who shall be appointed by the governor. The scope of the commission shall include, but not be limited to, researching and evaluating: (i) the use of EBT cards for the purchase of products other than those products for which the cards are intended to be used, such as firearms, tobacco, lottery tickets and alcohol; (ii) the frequency and location of out-of-state card use; (iii) the in-state stores where cards are used; (iv) the proportion of 1 month’s EBT cash assistance that is withdrawn from automated teller machines, or ATMs, rather than used in stores to directly purchase products; and (v) the costs associated with requiring the department to include, on the front of each newly issued, re-issued and existing EBT cards, a photograph of the cardholder. The commission shall research, assess and develop recommendations regarding the best method of preventing the inappropriate use of EBT cards, including implementing a monthly limit to the amount of EBT cash assistance that a recipient of cash assistance may withdraw from ATMs and the feasibility of prohibiting the purchase of certain items by restricting the ability of EBT cards to be used in purchasing those items. The commission shall also study and research the feasibility of requiring stores to apply to accept EBT cards. The commission shall submit a final report of its findings and recommendations, together with drafts of legislation necessary to implement those recommendations, by filing the same with the clerks of the senate and house not later than April 1, 2012.

Approved, December 21 , 2011.