- Associated Press - Friday, March 11, 2016

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Maine Democrats say a battery of changes to the state’s welfare system would prevent recipients from spending welfare money on alcohol, cigarettes, lottery tickets and tattoos.

House Speaker Mark Eves, a North Berwick Democrat, says the party is responding to Mainers who say the system is “broken.”

The Democrats’ proposal would also convert $5 million in cash benefits that are available to welfare recipients into direct payments to landlords. They also want to create a Citizen Oversight Board to oversee welfare programs.

Some of the proposals are similar to those touted by Republican lawmakers and Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

The Portland Press Herald (https://bit.ly/1RE0tj0 ) reports Republican leaders in the Legislature agree the welfare system needs to be fixed. But they also say Democrats are playing politics during an election year.

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