State Sen. Patty Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, and Assemblyman Will Barclay, R-Pulaski, are sponsoring a bill that would require the state to run background checks on those who receive public assistance to make sure they aren't wanted by law enforcement or are fleeing parole or probation.
If they are wanted, they won't get the benefits, Mrs. Ritchie's office tells me.
"Currently individuals who are wanted criminals from other states are not run through the criminal justice system to determine if they wanted by another jurisdiction or state," her office says. "This bill would require it."
The bill has already been introduced once, last year, but it must be reintroduced to pass in this legislative session.
Here's what's interesting, and deserves a more thorough analysis than quarter to 4 on a Friday: the fact that there are two competing impulses over welfare benefits in New York right now.
One of the impulses generally comes from Republicans, and it's this: One must police the welfare system more thoroughly to make sure that people who are receiving benefits actually deserve them. Last year, Mr. Barclay and Mrs. Ritchie signaled support for a bill that would drug test welfare recipients.
the other impulse is generally more Democratic, and it's this: It's unfair and inaccurate to say that welfare beneficiaries are more likely to do drugs or commit crimes, and often the extra requirements are more costly than letting a few Edward Lamar Moseses through the cracks. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced at his State of the State that New York City will no longer require fingerprinting for food stamps, because the only way in which it works is to stigmatize welfare and discourage people who need it from signing up for it.
Expect a more thorough analysis on the subject sometime next week.