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Pa. House Republicans unveil welfare reform plan - abc27 WHTM

Pa. House Republicans unveil welfare reform plan

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

House Republicans have unveiled a package of legislation that would reform the state's welfare system.

The eight-bill package of the WelFAIR proposal includes legislation that would mandate drug testing for recipients with a felony drug conviction in the past five years, or are currently on probation for a felony drug conviction.

Twenty-percent of that group would be tested every six months, and a refusal to take the test would result in a loss of benefits.

Another bill would prevent so-called "benefits shopping" by requiring the Department of Public Welfare to determine benefits on an applicant's county of permanent residence. Supporters said current law allows people to apply as temporary residents of counties with higher benefit amounts.

Other bills would prohibit the purchase of tobacco with benefit cards, require a photo ID to make sure benefits aren't misused, and cross reference applicants through 19 different databases to confirm their eligibility.

Legal penalties for those who commit welfare fraud would be strengthened.

"The facts clearly demonstrate the need to improve the integrity of Pennsylvania's welfare system," said Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster), one of the co-chairs of the group that crafted the WelFAIR proposal. "Welfare fraud is a problem because taxpayer dollars are a limited resource. Every dollar someone steals through welfare fraud is like taking a dollar out of the hands of a needy child or a disabled senior citizen."

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