Senate measures would end public assistance for lottery winners

LANSING — Measures to help put an end to lottery winners collecting state assistance were introduced Thursday in the Michigan Senate, said Sen. Joe Hune.

“Public assistance is a safety net for Michigan residents who are in need,” said Hune, R-Hamburg Township. “Unfortunately, some people exploit loopholes in the law that allow them to collect these benefits, even after winning the state lottery. Thankfully, this legislation will close those loopholes and put an end to this corrupt behavior.”

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 proposals were prompted by news reports last spring regarding a Bay County resident 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.

SBs 711 and 712 have been referred to the Senate Families, Seniors and Human Services Committee for consideration.

“I look forward to supporting these bills when they come up for a vote in the full Senate,” Hune said.