By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog
NASHVILLE — A new Tennessee law that forbids people from using electronic benefit transfer cards at adult establishments including strip clubs and liquor stores hasn’t gone into effect — and one Memphis liquor store owner said no one has formally notified him of the change.
Harry Cardosi, owner of Uncle Harry’s liquor store, said his liquor license and other information about his business is on file with state officials in Nashville. So they ought to be able to find him.
The new law certainly affects him — Tennessee Watchdog’s examination of state records last year shows that some of Cardosi’s customers used EBT cards at his establishment.
He said state officials sometimes don’t generally notify him of new laws that affect his business.
If caught violating the law, Cardosi would have to pay fines of up to $1,000, according to the law.
“Sometimes the liquor salesmen will come by and say there is a new law that has passed. They will be the ones that tell me. Sometimes we get notified. Sometimes we don’t. We always find out because there is a pipeline of information,” Cardosi said.
But what if no one in this pipeline notified him?
Christopher Garrett, spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Health and Human Services, which administers the EBT card program in Tennessee, didn’t have specific information Wednesday about when the new law fully goes into effect.
“It is going to be implemented in stages. Rules and policies have to be put in place before it can be fully functional,” Garrett said.
Tennessee Watchdog’s review of EBT transactions last year in Memphis, Chattanooga and Knoxville revealed recipients used their cards at Graceland’s ticket office, strip clubs and high-end nightclubs. Someone on EBT even made a $790 transaction at Memphis’ Highway 51 liquor store.
UPDATE: After the original publication of this article, Garrett e-mailed Tennessee Watchdog to say the following:
“In accordance with the law, which goes into effect July 1, 2014, DHS is moving forward with a plan of implementation. This plan includes studying implementation in other states to derive best practices, identifying technology to help identify restricted businesses, drafting rules to govern implementation and drafting communications notices for merchants and EBT clients alike about the parameters of the law, among other tasks.”
Contact Christopher Butler at email@example.com.
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