Public assistance is a safety net for Michigan residents in need. Unfortunately, some people exploit loopholes in state law that allow them to collect these benefits, even if they are state lottery winners. Thankfully, legislation to close those loopholes was recently introduced in the state Senate.
The measures would require Michigan lottery officials to share the names of winners with various government departments, which would then have to immediately remove the winners from all public assistance programs.
The proposals were prompted by news reports earlier this year regarding a Bay County man who still used food stamps nearly a year after winning a jackpot on “Make Me Rich.” The lottery winner admitted to using a Bridge Card at area stores and claimed state officials gave him the green light to do so.
Senate Bill 711 would require the Michigan Lottery to submit a winner’s Social Security number to the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) and Medicaid officials within seven days.
Under Senate Bill 712, DHS would be required to apply an asset test to those seeking food assistance to verify that their household has no more than $5,000 in countable assets. Money received from lottery or other gambling winnings would go toward this income total whether received in a lump-sum payment or on a monthly payout basis.
The bills have been referred to the Senate Families, Seniors and Human Services Committee for consideration. I hope to see swift action on these common-sense measures.
Sen. Joe Hune represents the 22nd state Senate District, which includes Livingston and Shiawassee counties, and the southern part of Ingham County. The Ingham County portion includes Bunkerhill, Leslie, Stockbridge and Vevay townships, and the cities of Leslie and Mason.