WICHITA EAGLE: Kansas bill targeting welfare recipients who hit lottery jackpots gets hearing

By Daniel Salazar
February 1, 2016

Supporters and opponents weighed in on proposed welfare changes at a Senate committee hearing Monday.

The bill, SB 372, would give the Kansas Department of Children and Families secretary the authority to cross-check lottery winnings against a list of welfare recipients.

“Any prize winner over $10,000 would be asked to verify their income and resources to see if they are still eligible for these poverty programs,” said DCF’s Sandra Kimmons at a Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee hearing.

Kimmons said recipients who are excessively replacing their benefits cards would be reviewed by DCF’s fraud division.

The agency also would verify the identity of all adults in a recipient’s household under SB 372.

Kimmons said the provisions of the bill help protect the integrity of DCF’s programs.

“It furthers our efforts to help individuals move from poverty to prosperity through self-reliance,” she said.

Several child welfare and nutritional groups oppose the bill.

“Safety-net programs are serving fewer Kansans despite high levels of need in the state,” said Amanda Gress of the group Kansas Action for Children. “It creates additional barriers to accessing the state’s safety net.”

She said the bill would make it more difficult for children and families to participate.

“Verifying the identity of all adults in a household penalizes multiple-adult families, creates additional administrative costs and delays assistance,” Gress said.

The bill would not help Kansans out of poverty, said Rebekah Gaston, of the nonprofit Kansas Appleseed Center for Law and Justice.

“It does place unduly harsh penalties on recipients who don’t comply quickly enough with food assistance work requirements,” Gaston said.

The bill, if passed, would add to the Hope Act, a welfare law the Legislature passed last year.

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