EBT card ban at strip clubs, casinos advances in Senate

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Patrons of strip clubs won’t be able to make it rain with government assistance under a measure that got its first vote of support from state senators on Tuesday.

The Regulated Industries Committee approved with little discussion the proposal (SB 1048) by Sen. Andy Gardiner to prohibit electronic benefits (EBT) cards from being used at strip clubs, liquor stores and gambling establishments, including casinos, pari-mutuels and Internet cafes.

The House version (HB 701) has cleared two committees with little trouble and is set to go before Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday.

A similar effort last year, which also included bans on foods that could be purchased with the cards, was approved in the House but failed to reach the Senate floor. The legislation is backed this time by a section of the federal Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which requires states by 2014 to prohibit the cards from being used “in any liquor store; any casino, gambling casino, or gaming establishment; or any retail establishment which provides adult-oriented entertainment in which performers disrobe or perform in an unclothed state for entertainment.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.