Bill Would Require Background Checks For Benefits

Apr 3, 2013

N.C. Legislative Building
Credit Dave DeWitt / WUNC

A bill in the legislature would require county social services offices to conduct criminal background checks on people seeking and receiving federal benefits.

Right now, social services workers may ask applicants for food stamps or cash payments if they have any outstanding warrants. But they're not allowed to disclose that information to local law enforcement officials.

Under the bill, social services would be required to conduct criminal background checks. The bill's sponsor, State Representative Dean Arp, says people with felony charges or probation or parole violations are not eligible for federal food and cash assistance programs, so the state needs to work harder to make sure they don't receive those benefits.

But the cost of background checks might be too much for strapped social services agencies to bear. Lawmakers haven't said how much the bill could potentially cost the state. The measure passed a House committee yesterday and now goes to the House floor.