Lottery winners could have prizes garnished if they receive public assistance

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- On Thursday, Arkansas state representative John Payton filed a bill that would require the state to confiscate lottery winnings from any individuals receiving public assistance.

Under House Bill 1825, the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery would have to consult with the Department of Health Services to verify if a winning individual “was receiving public assistance at the time of purchasing a ticket.” If the prize totals $500 or more, Payton’s bill would instruct the lottery program to garnish the winnings and then direct the prize funds to DHS.

Moreover, an individual is subject to potential garnishment “to the amount the person has received in public assistance within the preceding 10 years.”

HB 1825 would therefore require DHS not only to disclose the individual’s status as a recipient of public assistance without his or her consent, but also the amount of assistance he or she has received.

The bill would allow a winner to retain an amount over $500, but only to pay the taxes on the winnings, which would then be stripped and provided to DHS. 

HB 1825 is set to be heard in committee next week.

The Republican from Wilburn has also introduced legislation to limit compensation benefits for permanently disabled workers.

Currently, workers that are permanently disabled receive benefits under The Workers Compensation Law, which was enacted by Arkansas voters in 1948.

Payton’s House Bill 1586 would limit the worker’s compensation benefits to two-thirds of his or her average weekly wages. The bill would also limit those payments to just 450 weeks or a little over eight-and-a-half years. After that time, permanently disabled workers would be entirely cut off from benefits.

In defense of the bill, Payton referenced other states that have imposed limits on worker compensation benefits. Last year, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that its state’s limit was unconstitutional after a St. Petersburg firefighter and paramedic was cut off from benefits before he was able to return to work.

HB 1586 initially failed in the House, but was amended and reconsidered. It passed on February 27, with 69 yeas to 18 nays. It now goes before the Senate Committee on Public Health, Welfare, and Labor.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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