Friday, March 18, 2011


This story is all over the lefty sites on the net:

"Minnesota Republicans are pushing legislation that would make it a crime for people on public assistance to have more $20 in cash in their pockets any given month. This represents a change from their initial proposal, which banned them from having any money at all.

On March 15, Angel Buechner of the Welfare Rights Committee testified in front of the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee on House File 171. Buechner told committee members, “We would like to address the provision that makes it illegal for MFIP [one of Minnesota’s welfare programs] families to withdraw cash from the cash portion of the MFIP grant - and in fact, appears to make it illegal for MFIP families to have any type of money at all in their pockets. How do you expect people to take care of business like paying bills such as lights, gas, water, trash and phone?”

House File 171 would make it so that families on MFIP - and disabled single adults on General Assistance and Minnesota Supplemental Aid - could not have their cash grants in cash or put into a checking account. Rather, they could only use a state-issued debit card at special terminals in certain businesses that are set up to accept the card."
Fight Back News

Now, maybe it's just me but when I see a whole group of people going crazy and just reposting the same thing, word for word, on every site that supports a particular political view I get a bit suspicious. So I went and checked the bill out on the Minnesota House of Representatives website. Hard to believe that you can find such obscure info with just a couple clicks, isn't it? Here's, at least in part, what I found:

"Electronic benefit transfer or EBT debit card. (a) Electronic benefit transfer (EBT) debit cardholders in the general assistance program and the Minnesota supplemental aid program under chapter 256D and programs under chapter are prohibited from withdrawing cash from an automatic teller machine or receiving cash from vendors with the EBT debit card. The EBT debit card may only be used as a debit card.

Beginning July 1, 2011, cash benefits for programs listed under paragraph (a) must be issued on a separate EBT card with the head of household's name printed on the card. The card must also state that "It is unlawful to use this card to purchase tobacco products or alcoholic beverages." This card must be issued within 30 calendar days of an eligibility determination. During the initial 30 calendar days of eligibility, a recipient may have cash benefits issued on an EBT card without the recipient's name printed on the card. This card may be the same card on which food support is issued and does not need to meet the requirements of this section.(c) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), EBT cardholders may opt to have up to $20 per month accessible via automatic teller machine or receive up to $20 cash back from vendor."

After reading this, does it appear to you in any way that the Republicans are trying to limit the amount of cash anyone is allowed to carry? No. They are merely limiting the amount of cash that can be withdrawn from the state issued debit card. I don't know this for certain but I'm guessing that the intent of this is to control how the public monies are spent, limiting purchases to legitimate items and most likely aimed at reducing the ability of the welfare recipients to use public money to purchase drugs and other illegal goods.

What's wrong with this? Does society have nothing to say about how the money it hands over to the indigent is spent? It's our money and we can set the rules. That seems to be a just social contract, social justice if you will.

The internet is a wonderful way to stay on top of the issues of the day but all people, regardless of political persuasion, need to check their facts before running with a story. It's way too easy to become party to the spreading of lies meant to harm one group or another.


  1. thanks for doing the research and straightening this out. I wouldn't be surprised if most states didn't have something similar in place, otherwise there would be some people who would misuse the money intended for food, utilities etc.

  2. Thanks. I may be a right wing nut job but I do really try to be an honest one.

  3. You're the man!! Congrats. I run across liberals ll the time at work, as they're well represented in the legal profession, and I know this is stereotyping, but there is powerful anecdotal evidence, that they don't think rationally. They think emotionally, and therefore, it's so very easy to absolutely crush them in any logical argument.

  4. Thank you for setting the record straight on this! Incorrect information is being spread all over twitter and FB. Why don't people check things out before reposting? Because in their mind OF COURSE it must be true because Republicans are evil! It doesn't even occur to liberals that it might not be true.