ATTACHMENT C

July 11, 2011

To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives:

Pursuant to Article LVI, as amended by Article XC, Section 3 of the Amendments to the Constitution, I am returning to you for amendment Section 27 of House Bill No. 3535, "An Act Making Appropriations for the Fiscal Year 2012 for the Maintenance of the Departments, Boards, Commissions, Institutions and Certain Activities of the Commonwealth, for Interest, Sinking Fund and Serial Bond Requirements and for Certain Permanent Improvements."

As you know, I support the purposes of this section. Section 27 requires recipients of cash assistance to reimburse the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) for purchases of alcoholic beverages, lottery tickets or tobacco products made using direct cash assistance. This section also subjects individuals or store owners who knowingly accept an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card for the purchase of alcoholic beverages, lottery tickets or tobacco products to fines (up to $500 for the first offense, between $500 and $1,000 for the second offense, and not less than $1,000 for the third or subsequent offense). Finally, this section imposes up to a 5-year sentence and/or $25,000 fine for fraudulently obtaining welfare funds in excess of $100 and a 1-year sentence and/or $1,000 fine for fraudulently obtaining under $100 worth of welfare funds.


This section, however, incorrectly refers to imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than 5 years, rendering this provision unenforceable as sentences to the house of correction cannot exceed 2 ½ years. This is the same minor but essential amendment I have urged upon the Legislature previously.

For this reason, I recommend that Section 27 be amended by striking the words "imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than 5 years" and inserting in place thereof, "imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than 2 ½ years, or imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years", so as to read as follows:

SECTION 27. Chapter 18 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 5H the following 3 sections:-

Section 5I. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, eligible recipients of direct cash assistance shall not use direct cash assistance funds for the purchase of alcoholic beverages, lottery tickets or tobacco products. An eligible recipient of direct cash assistance who makes a purchase in violation of this section shall reimburse the department for such purchase.

Section 5J. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, an individual or store owner shall not accept direct cash assistance funds held on electronic benefit transfer cards for the purchase of alcoholic beverages, lottery tickets, or tobacco products. An individual or store owner who knowingly accepts electronic benefit transfer cards in violation of this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than $500 for the first offense, a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $1,000 for the second offense, and a fine of not less than $1,000 for the third or subsequent offense.

Section 5K. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, whoever embezzles, steals or obtains by fraud any funds, assets or property provided by the department of transitional assistance and whoever receives, conceals or retains such funds, assets or property for his own interest knowing such funds, assets or property have been embezzled, stolen or obtained by fraud shall, if such funds, assets or property are of a value of $100 or more, be punished by a fine of not more than $25,000 or by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than 2 ½ years, or imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years, or both such fine and imprisonment, or if such funds, assets or property are of a value of less than $100, by a fine of not more than $1,000 or by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than 1 year, or both such fine and imprisonment.

Respectfully submitted,

Deval Patrick