Legislation to toughen penalties for welfare fraud is headed to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
House Bill 2058 was approved by the House Health Committee on Monday.
The proposal, sponsored by Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne), would make fraud of $1,000 or more in cash benefits or food stamps a third-degree felony, punishable by a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and/or a fine of $15,000.
If the amount of fraud is $999 or less, the crime would be a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or a fine of $10,000.
Under current law, welfare fraud of $999 or less is a third-degree misdemeanor, $1,000 to $1,499 is a second-degree misdemeanor, $1,500 to $2,999 as a first-degree misdemeanor, and $3,000 or more is a third-degree felony.
A similar bill was approved by the House during the 2011-12 session, but it failed to come up for a vote in the Senate.