Jones legislation would continue to curb Bridge Card abuse

LANSING— State Sen. Rick Jones introduced a series of legislation on Wednesday that aimed at curbing Bridge Card abuse in Michigan.

Last year, Jones sponsored legislation that banned cash withdrawals from Bridge Cards in casinos. Earlier this year, Jones was alerted that Bridge Cards were being used in gentleman’s clubs and liquor store and he introduced legislation to stop this practice.  This legislation is currently in Senate Committee on Banking and Financial Institutions and a hearing will be held on Thursday.  

The measures introduced on Wednesday are Senate Bills 554-556. The legislation will prohibit cash withdrawals at horse racing tracks and place a provision on a liquor store’s liquor license to prohibit the use of a Bridge Card at the point of sale. Under this change a liquor license would be revoked if a liquor store does not comply with the policy. A liquor store is defined as a store that generates 50 percent or more of its sales from alcohol. Bridge Cards will still be accepted the grocery stores. 

“Bridge Cards should be used to feed hungry families and provide the necessities of life. Lap dances and liquor are not necessities,”said Jones, R-Grand Ledge.

A bill passed last year by the federal government says that states must comply with new guidelines in order to receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) grants, including preventing assistance provided under the state program from being used in any EBT transaction in liquor stores, gaming establishments or any retail establishment that provides adult-oriented entertainment in which performers disrobe. 

If no change is made, a penalty equal to up to 4 percent of the block grants will be deducted beginning in 2014, which could amount to roughly $40 million in funding losses for the state.

“I have been fighting abuse like this for years and this is only one more step in process,” Jones said. “I would also like to thank state Representative Margret O’Brien of Portage and Representative Dale Zorn of Ida for all of their hard work on this issue. The hardworking taxpayers in Michigan do not deserve to have their money wasted”