Mich. Lt. Gov. Calley Signs Law Banning Inmate Access to Bridge Cards

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Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, acting on behalf of Gov. Rick Snyder, signed a bill into law on Thursday that bans people who are currently incarcerated from being able to receive food assistance from the state, according to local news affiliate Fox 47 and other media outlets. The law also cuts off access for prisoners that have previously received food assistance.

Here are some of the key details regarding the bill to ban food assistance for prisoners.

* The law, which was approved as House Bill 4723, specifically bans prisoner access to Michigan's food assistance program by not allowing them to apply for or be issued a Bridge card, according to an announcement by the governor's office.

* It also requires Michigan's Department of Human Services to immediately terminate Bridge card access for anyone currently incarcerated, and requires the department to make monthly checks to determine that no prisoners in Michigan jails are receiving food assistance from the state.

* House Act 4723, which now goes into the state records as Public Act 281 of 2012, cements into law policies that were already in place within the Michigan Department of Human Services itself, according to MLive.

* The bill was sponsored by state Rep. Bob Genetski (R-Saugatuck), who introduced it last fall as part of a package of reforms that he stated were part of an effort to cut down on fraud within the state's welfare system.

* He maintained at the time that the Bridge cards "take the cake" in regards to abuse and fraud, as quoted by the Michigan House Republicans' official website, and in his opinion needed to be dealt with.

* Rep. Genetski also introduced a law that will charge a Bridge card recipient a fee for a replacement card past the first initial replacement. The law, which Genetski said he hoped would act as a deterrent to those who sell their Bridge cards for cash, was signed by Gov. Snyder last week, according to MLive.

* The stipulations on replacement cards that were just signed into law were also already part of the state Department of Human Services' policies.

* In a statement issued after he signed House Bill 4723 into law on Thursday, Calley said that blocking prisoner access to Bridge cards was a "common-sense way to reduce fraud, save taxpayer dollars, and help ensure assistance is given to those who are truly in need."

* Lt. Gov. Calley signed House Bill 4723 into law in Snyder's place because Snyder is currently out of the office on vacation.

Vanessa Evans is a musician and freelance writer based in Michigan, with a lifelong interest in politics and public issues.

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