January 30, 2012
The Honorable John Boehner The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House Minority Leader
1011 Longworth HOB 235 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC 20515
Dear Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi:
On behalf of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), we write in opposition to H.R. 3567, the “Welfare Integrity for Children and Families Act of 2011,” which is scheduled for a vote on the Floor under Suspension of the Rules on Wednesday, February 1. States share your concern about the inappropriate use of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits; however, NCSL strongly believes that these decisions are appropriately made at the state level.
When Welfare Reform was enacted in 1996 (P.L.104-193), state and federal policymakers agreed to forgo the open-ended entitlement of AFDC for the flexibility afforded in the fixed TANF block grant. In this agreement, policy decision making authority was left up to the states including state legislatures. Mandating states to limit Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) transactions preempts state authority over the TANF block grant and undermines the strong state-federal partnership undertaken in 1996. Additionally, NCSL is concerned about the financial burden this mandate would impose on states, many of whose fiscal situation is still perilous. States have existing contracts with EBT vendors that might need to be changed at significant cost to the state if this bill becomes law.
States are addressing the issues raised in H.R.3567. To date, California and Washington have limited the use of EBT cards and addressed the complex implementation process of limiting EBT card usage. Many additional states are looking at similar EBT limitations and other ways to combat fraud and abuse in their current sessions.
If you have any questions regarding what states are doing to address the concerns of H.R.3567 or to discuss the bill, please do not hesitate to contact Sheri Steisel (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Emily Wengrovius(email@example.com) or by calling (202)624-5400.
The Honorable Tom Hansen The Honorable Barbara W. Ballard
South Dakota Senate Kansas House of Representatives
Chair NCSL Human Services & Welfare Committee Chair NCSL Human Services & Welfare Committee