BATON ROUGE, La. (KALB News Channel 5) – Yesterday, Governor Jindal signed HB1176 by Rep. Chris Broadwater to prohibit retailers such as adult-oriented entertainment stores, liquor stores, and nail salons from accepting public cash assistance benefits intended only for basic necessities like food and shelter. This bill was included in the Governor’s 2014 Legislative Package.
HB 1176 by Rep. Chris Broadwater puts into law a rule issued by the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) earlier this year to prohibit the use of EBT benefits at certain retailers. These benefits provide cash assistance to help pay only for a family's ongoing basic needs, such as food, shelter and clothing. DCFS initially implemented the emergency rule in March.
Governor Jindal said, “This bill will help ensure these benefits are being used for their intended purpose, which is to provide resources like food, clothing and shelter for families that need it most. It will also allow us to hold retailers and card holders accountable for these unauthorized purchases, and it will help DCFS deter future transactions.”
The law also prohibits recipients from using benefits to make purchases at adult paraphernalia stores, tattoo shops and jewelry stores. It also prohibits the purchase of alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, lottery tickets or jewelry from any retailer.
Under the bill, retailers that violate the law by accepting benefits be subject to penalties in the form of fines –$500 for a first violation and up to $2,500 for a third or any additional violation.
Benefit recipients face a 12-month disqualification from the programs for a first offense. A second offense will result in being disqualified for 24 months. Third offenses will result in a permanent disqualification.
Under the new law, EBT cards that hold these cash assistance benefits can no longer be used at the following establishments:
Any retail establishment that provides adult-oriented entertainment in which performers disrobe or perform in an unclothed state for entertainment purposes or adult bookstores or adult paraphernalia and any sexually oriented business;
Any nail salon;
Any tattoo, piercing, or commercial body art facility;
Any jewelry store;
Any amusement attraction, including movie theaters, or video arcade;
Any bail bonds company;
Any nightclub, bar, tavern, or saloon;
Any cruise ship;
Any psychic business;
Any gaming establishment;
Any liquor store;
Any establishment where persons under age 18 are not permitted.