AZ Pols Vote to Ban Use of Welfare Cards at Adult Businesses

ARIZONA—Building on a 26-1 Senate vote in April, the Arizona House today voted unanimously to pass HB 2205, a bill that prohibits welfare recipients in the state from using their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards in liquor stores, gambling halls and adult establishments. One would think a bill that elicits such unanimity would of necessity be something useful and effective. Unfortunately, this bill, which will probably become law, is merely an inconvenience with a price tag attached.

Even the AP was duped as to the purpose of this reactionary piece of legislation, reporting today, “Arizona is among a growing number of states that are blocking welfare recipients from spending their benefits on booze, gambling and strippers.”

Actually, this bill does no such thing. Rather than block any actual spending, it merely forces welfare recipients who want to purchase alcohol, bet on a race or buy a lap dance to find an ATM located somewhere other than in a prohibited business from which to withdraw cash to spend however they like. Stopping that will take a far greater level of state supervision than is currently being considered ... we hope.

Of course, the bill also forces every liquor store in the state that has an ATM in it to needlessly expend resources to stay in compliance with the ATM requirements of the bill, under threat of license forfeiture. Nice move for a state that professes to care about small business.

House Bill 2205, which was sponsored by Representative Kate Brophy McGee (R-Phoenix), contains the following pertinent section:

46-297. Electronic benefit transfers; prohibitions; violation; classification; definitions

A.  A head of household who receives cash assistance pursuant to this section, or on behalf of another person, and any person authorized by the head of household shall not conduct an electronic benefit transfer transaction at any of the following:

1.  A liquor store as defined in this section.

2.  A commercial horse racing or dog racing facility as defined in section 5-101.

3.  A casino, gambling casino or gaming establishment or a gaming facility located on Indian lands pursuant to section 5-601.02.

4.  An adult oriented entertainment establishment.

B.  It is unlawful for an adult oriented entertainment establishment to operate on the licensed or permitted premises an automatic teller machine or a point-of-sale terminal that accepts electronic benefit transfer cards issued under this title or that processes electronic benefit card transactions.  A violation of this subsection is a permit or license violation.  A municipality that licenses or regulates adult oriented entertainment establishments shall do all of the following:

1.  Ensure that on or before February 1, 2014 all adult oriented entertainment establishments in the municipality's jurisdiction disable the ability of automatic teller machines and point‑of‑sale terminals operated on the business's premises to accept the electronic benefit transfer card or process an electronic benefit transfer card transaction.

2.  Enforce the continued prohibition on the use of the electronic benefit transfer card.

3.  Enact ordinances necessary to ensure compliance with this section.

C.  The department shall notify electronic benefit transfer card recipients of the restrictions prescribed in subsection A of this section.

D.  An adult oriented entertainment establishment that violates this section is subject to licensing or permit action.

E.  For the purposes of this section:

1.  "Adult oriented entertainment establishment" means an entertainment business at which performers disrobe or perform in an unclothed state.