Under the Dome

Food stamp fraud focus of lottery bill

Saying there’s a need to crack down on food stamp recipients who fraudulently fail to report their lottery winnings, a state House committee on Wednesday approved a bill to accomplish that.

House Bill 1047 would require the state Lottery Commission to report winnings of more than $2,250 to the state Department of Health and Human Services every month so it can crosscheck for food stamp recipients and applicants.

It is already illegal to fail to report income when applying or re-applying for food stamps. This bill would establish penalties aimed at repeat offenders.

First violations would result in a three-month suspension for everyone in the household; second violations would bring a six-month household suspension, and for the third time it would be a permanent disqualification for the person receiving the food stamps and a six-month disqualification for the rest of the household.

Rep. Bert Jones, a Republican from Reidsville, said a number of states have uncovered significant losses from abuse of the federal Food and Nutrition Services program.

“It diverts money from the truly needy,” he said.

Jones added that it would be a small step toward ensuring the federal program is sustainable over the long run.