October 4, 2011
State Reps. Dave Agema and Dale Zorn today introduced a duo of bills to ensure wealthy Michigan residents are not buying their groceries on the backs of Michigan taxpayers.
The new legislation comes a few months after news that a Michigan man who won $2 million from the lottery continues to receive monthly food assistance benefits, despite being awarded the lump sum in June 2010.
Currently, lottery winnings are only counted toward income used in determining food assistance eligibility if the winner receives regular payments. Winnings do not count toward income if collected all at once.
Zorn's House Bill 5032 will require the lottery bureau to share the names of lottery winners with the Department of Human Services (DHS) so that all winners can be cross-checked with those receiving state assistance.
"State assistance programs paid for by taxpayers are for those whose resources have run out and have no other means of obtaining immediate needs such as food and shelter," said the Ida Republican. "To allow lottery winners to remain in the system when it's been proven that they have immense wealth is shameful."
Agema, R-Grandville, introduced House Bill 5033 to amend DHS's asset test so that anyone who wins the lottery is deemed ineligible, whether they receive gambling winnings in a lump sum or monthly payout.
"With gambling, winning is never a sure thing," Agema said. "But with this legislation, if you gamble and win you can be sure you won't be getting taxpayer-funded benefits from Michigan residents any longer. The Bridge Card stops here."
The Michigan House of Representatives has been working closely with the Department of Human Services this year to eliminate fraud and abuse of the state's food assistance resources.