The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services announced an emergency change to welfare regulations this week, banning the use of benefits at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, bail bond companies, and any business where minors are not allowed.
DCFS says the new regulations, announced Thursday, cover both the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program, commonly known as welfare, and the Kinship Care Subsidy Program.
Recipients are now banned from using welfare debit cards at jewelry stores, video arcades, cruise ships, psychics, adult-entertainment businesses, nightclubs, bars, lingerie stores, tattoo parlors, bail bond companies, and any businesses where minors are not allowed.
Violators of the new guidelines will stop receiving welfare benefits for one year. Benefits will be suspended for two years for a second offense and permanently after a third offense. A Mississippi bill proposed to stop welfare benefits from being used to buy drugs has less tough penalties for positive drugs tests. Benefits under that bill are only suspended for one year after three positive drug tests.
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"This rule will not affect families who currently use the program as intended, which is to provide food, shelter and clothing for families," Louisiana DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier said in a statement.
The news comes just one week after a Gonzalez lingerie shop made headlines for putting a sign in its window announcing it accepts Electronic Benefits Transfer cards from food stamp recipients as a form of payment.
About 3,500 Louisiana families receive welfare benefits with average payments of $192 per month. Another 2,400 households receive kinship care subsidies, averaging $419 a month, according to the DCFS.
A bill proposed by Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond, would fine retailers who don’t follow the new guidelines.
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"I hope that we can meet the spirit of intent of the program while also ensuring that state and federal tax dollars are being used appropriately," Broadwater said in a statement.