By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — A Pennsylvania House committee has advanced a bill that would prohibit the use of electronic welfare and child-support payments for tobacco, alcohol, and several other purposes.

It is already the current policy of the state’s Department of Public Welfare to prohibit the use electronic benefits transfer cards for tobacco and alcohol, and to prohibit their use in casinos or adult entertainment establishments.  The bill would now codify that policy into law.

The measure passed the House Health Committee even though several Democrats, including Rep. Mike O’Brien of Philadelphia (at center in photo), saw it as problematic.

“If someone chooses to take money that they should be using for food for their children and to buy liquor with it, it’s a lack of personal responsibility,” he noted, “and for the Commonwealth to try to impose that responsibility on them, it seems to me, is bordering on the nanny state.”

Some Democrats also said the policy is unenforceable and discriminates against those who get child-support payments through so-called “EPPICards” as opposed to non-electronic means.


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