Sen. Green: Bills blocking lottery winners from receiving government assistance sent to governor

LANSING, Mich.—Lottery winners are one final step from being prohibited from receiving public food assistance, said state Sen. Mike Green, a primary bill sponsor.

“Folks who have won the lottery should not be taking public food assistance from others who are in need,” said Green, R-Mayville, sponsor of Senate Bill 712. “As all residents are conscious in budgeting where their money goes, so too should state government. We cannot spend money where it is not needed, and lottery winners certainly are not in need.”

Senate Bill 711 requires the Michigan Lottery to notify the Department of Human Service (DHS) of the name and other information of a winner of a prize of $1,000 or more within seven days. SB 712 and House Bill 5033 would require DHS to apply an asset test when determining eligibility for food aid. Money received from lottery or other gambling winnings would go toward this asset total whether received in a lump-sum payment or on a monthly payout basis. 

The reforms were prompted by news reports in 2011 regarding a Bay County man who was still using food aid nearly a year after winning a $2 million jackpot on “Make Me Rich.” The man admitted to using a Bridge Card at area stores and claimed state officials allowed him to do so.

It was also discovered in March that a 24-year-old Lincoln Park woman, who won a $1 million lottery jackpot on the same lottery game show, was receiving $200 per week in food assistance. Both winners have since been dropped from the food assistance program.

The three bills are now on their way to the governor for consideration to be signed into law.