Lawmaker pushes for more restrictions for Link Cards

HERRIN, IL (KFVS) - A Heartland lawmaker wants to stop people in Illinois who abuse their link cards.

That's a card that looks and works like a debit card for those receiving government assistance.

For 28 years, Johnnie Thorton, owner of Thorton's Market in Herrin has welcomed customers at his market who use the public assistance known as Link Cards.

But he and his employees know what to look for if someone tries to use the cards for anything other than what is allowed.

"It's set forth in the guidelines on what they can have and that's where we stand," says Thorton.

And if anyone does try to buy things like cigarettes-or lottery tickets ...

"It's not an option," Thorton says.

But it's the option that allows people to withdraw cash that he can do nothing about.

"What they do with that need, is a judgment call on their own," said Thorton. "It's not for us to police certain things there."

That has Illinois State Representative Mike Bost up in arms.

Bost presented a bill earlier this week to bring harsher punishments to those who abuse the tax payers money.

"By having a law that says very clearly states what things you cannot use it for, then there is at least an avenue that you can be charged," said Bost.

While the bill failed to pass out of committee, Bost says he plans to bring it up again.

"In the hope that someday the state of Illinois will turn and head in the right direction to send a clear message," Bost said.  "We have no problem helping people in need, but you don't abuse the finances you are given."

The average monthly allowance people receive for assistance is $242.

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