Taxpayer protection

It’s the time of year when the Legislature begins posting on its website the various bill draft requests for the coming session. The state would be far better off if the great majority of these potential statutes were forever entombed.

But may we suggest one worthwhile proposal that should be added to the list for consideration by state lawmakers.

In recent years, 10 states have passed laws prohibiting people from using welfare money at casinos, liquor stores, strip clubs or on other goods or activities for which it isn’t intended. The National Conference of State Legislatures says 14 other states are considering such a law.

Nevada isn’t among them. But it should be.

This is not a punitive measure. It would simply help protect taxpayers who fund the various local, state and national safety nets.

Such a measure also would bring Nevada in compliance with a new federal law which demands that states by 2014 not sanction the use of public benefits in gambling establishments, liquor stores or adult entertainment venues.

Critics of these laws argue such restrictions are virtually impossible to enforce, given that many welfare recipients are now given debit cards and can access cash as if they are tapping their own bank accounts, making specific expenditures difficult to track.

This is indeed a problem, but it doesn’t excuse inaction. Any new tool the taxpayers have to catch scammers looking to game the system is a step forward in the fight against waste, fraud and abuse.

Nevada lawmakers should move on this issue.

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