Smith Says New State Law Will Help Deter Welfare Fraud
House Speaker Sam Smith (R-Jefferson, Indiana, Armstrong) said today that a new state law begins the long overdue process of reforming our welfare system. The law targets the misuse of public dollars and seeks to eliminate inefficiencies within the Department of Public Welfare.
“A common complaint I hear from those visiting my offices is that people are abusing the welfare system,” Smith said. “The state has an obligation to take care of people in serious need. However, with that comes the responsibility to be accountable for this use of taxpayer dollars. We need a system in place to verify that those most deserving of support are receiving it.”
The following provisions are part of Act 22. They are now state law.
- Welfare recipients with previous drug felony convictions will now be required to submit to random drug screenings for five years after the conviction or for the duration of probation, whichever is longer.
- The Department of Public Welfare will be required to use an electronic cross-reference system to provide a 19-point check on applicants’ income eligibility to ensure only those eligible for benefits receive them.
- In order to prevent people from “shopping around” for the most generous welfare benefits in the state, eligible applicants will receive assistance based only on levels authorized in their county of permanent legal residence -- regardless of the county where they submit their application.
- The law will impose new changes to the fraud-laden special allowance program. This could reduce costs of this program by up to 25 percent.
“For years, we fought to enact tougher reforms under the Rendell Administration. Our efforts were always met with resistance,” Smith said. “Now we have an opportunity to restore integrity to the system. This law is definitely a step in the right direction.”
State Representative Sam Smith
66th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Kelly Fedeli