Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, there shall be an independent commission to study and report on the development of a cashless payment system in using electronic benefit transfer, or EBT, cards. The commission shall consist of : the commissioner of transitional assistance, or a designee, who shall serve as chair; the inspector general, or a designee; the state auditor, or a designee; 2 members of the house of representatives, 1 of whom shall be appointed by the minority leader; 2 members of the senate, 1 of whom shall be appointed by the minority leader; and 2 persons representing eligible recipients to be appointed by the governor. The commission shall research, assess and develop recommendations to implement a cashless payment system and investigate and report on the feasibility of expanding the direct vendor payment system: (i) under
[direct vendor payments section]; and (ii) for rent and utility payments for all eligible recipients. The commission shall hire an independent consultant to conduct the research and assist with the preparation of any recommendations. The report shall include, but not be limited to, the following: (1) the costs associated with and any technological improvements necessary to implement and the time frame required for the expansion; (2) the implementation of a vendor payment system for the non-cash payment of rent and utility bills for all eligible recipients of direct cash assistance; and (3) the feasibility of placing fluctuating limitations on the percentage allocated to direct cash assistance and point of sale use. The commission shall submit a final report of its findings and recommendations, together with drafts of legislation necessary to implement those recommendations, by filing the same with the clerks of the senate and house on or before December 31, 2012.