- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The House Health and Human Services Committee in North Carolina voted Tuesday to require mandatory background checks for people seeking welfare and food stamp benefits.

All county Department of Social Services offices will now require background checks for people applying for benefits or for renewing their applications. DSS offices can choose whether they want to conduct formal background checks or simply ask the participant if he or she is in trouble with the law, The Blaze reports.

“We absolutely have to make sure our aid goes to law-abiding citizens first,” said state Rep. Dean Arp, R-Union who co-sponsored the bill. “This is a reasonable provision to ensure that.”

The DSS office will also be required to tell law enforcement agencies if an applicant is a fugitive or is sought for an outstanding warrant, The Blaze reports.

A lobbyist representing the North Carolina Association of County Directors of Social Services said she’s afraid the mandate will discourage people from seeking help.

“If people think they’re going to be punished or arrested for even coming to seek our services, then that’s a big concern for us,” Lori Ann Harris said. “We look to be friendly, not adversarial.”

Applicants with outstanding warrants can still qualify for benefits once they are no longer subject to arrest, The Blaze reports.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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