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This week our Administration announced it is blocking the use of EBT cards at ATMs in prohibited locations. Once again, Democrats objected to this common-sense measure to protect the taxpayers’ money.

Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

In 2012, we made it illegal to use Maine EBT cards in bars, liquor stores, gambling facilities and places that offer adult entertainment, like strip clubs. As soon as they heard that we are now blocking ATMs, Democrats scrambled to find a reason to object to it. They claimed it took us two years to enforce the law. They are wrong.

The law made it illegal to use EBT cards at these places, but did not require us to mechanically prevent it. Blocking EBT cards at these ATMs is an extra step to prevent the inappropriate and illegal use of state and federal welfare benefits.

Welfare recipients are informed of the law when they are issued their EBT cards. We are now issuing new EBT cards with photos on them. The law is printed on the back of these new cards. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse to use EBT cards illegally. We want to make sure it isn’t even an option.

The Department of Health and Human Services has already blocked EBT cards from 44 ATMs around the state. More than 200 locations will be blocked by August.

If someone uses an EBT card at a prohibited location, they will lose benefits for one year. A second violation results in a two-year suspension. If there is a third violation, that person will lose the benefit permanently.

We must make sure that each public dollar spent on welfare is used appropriately. These tax dollars are designated for daily necessities like diapers and healthy meals that vulnerable families and children need to survive. Spending these dollars on liquor or adult entertainment is incomprehensible, and this administration will not tolerate it.

Democrats have said that welfare fraud is a “victimless crime,” and they rejected all of my bills to enact common-sense welfare reform. It is inexcusable that Democrats and my opponents ignored these reforms that so many Mainers demand.

Democrats in liberal states California and Massachusetts have already blocked the illegal use of EBT cards at prohibited locations. But the liberals in Maine are still saying welfare fraud doesn’t exist. In fact, they want to expand welfare in our state.

Democrats don’t care about wasting your money on welfare fraud, but I do. That’s why I will continue to enact policies and procedures that prevent the misuse and abuse of taxpayer-funded welfare benefits.

It’s the right thing to do.

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