The following is a Letter to the Editor from Tomi Olson, a Republican candidate for state representative in the 24th Middlesex District.
Massachusetts’ citizens are kind, compassionate, and generous. That is why we provide a safety net for those who are facing financial challenges. In Massachusetts we cover food, rent and health care for those in need, especially for children
However, this generosity should not be abused. Funds intended to help the less fortunate survive, should not be used to purchase body piercings, tattoos, guns, manicures, pedicures, and pornography. Yet these abuses have happened all too often.
In response, the State Legislature, in a bi-partisan effort, passed a carefully crafted series of common-sense reforms that forbids such abuse. This was no hurried reactionary legislation. Quite the contrary, both Democrats and Republicans on Beacon Hill painstakingly hammered out a compromise that all reasonable Legislators could support.
This new law makes it illegal use EBT cards in certain specialty venues including, adult bookstores, gun shops, and jewelry stores. It also bans EBT cards being used to purchase specific items such as guns, jewelry and pornography, from any store that might sell them.
Gov. Patrick signed the package of reforms in to law on July 27. I wish we all could applaud his decision. However we can't. You see the Governor, in a defiant letter he sent to the Legislature, stated that he had no intention of enforcing the ban on purchasing specific items in non-specialty venues.
Patrick chastised the Legislature, stating: “I sign this bill with the understanding and due notice that this administration will not enforce what cannot be enforced with respect to the EBT cards.”
Full enforcement certainly presents challenges. However, the technology of scanners and bar codes make enforcement very possible. Presently the EBT program uses this exact technology to prevent the purchase of non-food items with food stamps. I’m sure with a little effort a similar system can be implemented, ensuring you can't use EBT Cards to purchase pornography either from an adult entertainment center or the local convenient convenience store.
The passage of this law would have provided a deterrent effect. However, the Governor’s publicly stated policy of non-enforcement eliminates the deterrent and only invites abuse. The end result: taxpayer dollars wasted with less money available to help those genuinely in need. Further, here is an example of Republicans and Democrats reaching across the aisle, putting the taxpayers above partisanship.
We must always advocate for those facing financial challenges. That’s the kind of people we are. As your State Representative for 24th Middlesex district, I will relentlessly work with my colleagues, Democrat or Republican, to protect our social safety net. But I won’t stand for your money being used to purchase guns, jewelry and pornography anywhere!