The Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee will hear public testimony Thursday on two bills that, if passed into law, would help reduce fraud, waste and abuse in the state Department of Social and Health Services. Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, sponsored Senate Bills 5327 and 5329 and will testify in their favor at the 10 a.m. hearing in the John A. Cherberg Building in Olympia.
SB 5327 would make it a gross misdemeanor to use state-issued electronic benefit transfer cards at certain adult-oriented locations – such as firearm dealers, liquor stores, tattoo parlors, tobacco outlets, strip clubs, and medical marijuana vendors. The measure would also require that the cards only be used in the state of Washington.
“Last summer, a KING-TV news investigation uncovered shocking proof that these cards – loaded with taxpayer money – were being used at ATMs in state casinos and card rooms,” Carrell said. “I was able to put a stop to that, and now we’re going after other types of misuse of these cards.”
“A culture of indifference exists at some of the highest levels of DSHS management – the people who design the rules by which benefits are acquired,” Carrell said. “These managers can be at best described as inept, and at worst as enabling fraud and abuse, because now they have the electronic tools to find out – almost in real time – who is defrauding the system, how it’s being done and when. And yet DSHS is doing very little about it.”
Carrell’s bills are part of a larger effort to reset the way state government runs programs and delivers services. Last fall, more than 7,500 state employees and members of the public responded to Senate Republicans’ statewide call for ideas and suggestions on how to save taxpayer money and cut back on fraud and waste.