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SB-675 Electronic benefits transfer system.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 08/21/2017 04:00 AM
SB675:v96#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  August 21, 2017
Amended  IN  Senate  April 27, 2017
Amended  IN  Senate  March 23, 2017

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill No. 675


Introduced by Senator Skinner

February 17, 2017


An act to amend Section 10072 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to public social services.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 675, as amended, Skinner. Electronic benefits transfer system.
Existing federal law provides for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known in California as CalFresh, under which supplemental nutrition assistance benefits allocated to the state by the federal government are distributed to eligible individuals by each county. Existing federal law requires the Secretary of Agriculture to approve retail food stores to accept CalFresh benefits through online transactions if the secretary implements this program after a required demonstration project.
Existing law provides for the establishment of a statewide electronic benefits transfer (EBT) system, administered by the State Department of Social Services, for the purpose of providing financial and food assistance benefits. Existing law authorizes a county to deliver CalFresh benefits through the use of the EBT system.
This bill would, to the maximum extent feasible and to the extent permitted by federal law and the rules of the program providing the benefits, or pursuant to a waiver from the United States Department of Agriculture, as specified, require the electronic benefits transfer EBT system to limit the purchase of food through an online transaction only to retailers that are authorized to accept CalFresh benefits by the United States Department of Agriculture and that comply with various requirements, including, providing reasonable access to return or exchange food within 4 hours of receipt of the food. The bill would also require the electronic benefits transfer EBT system to prohibit the use of CalFresh benefits to pay a fee for the delivery of food purchased using CalFresh benefits and, if a fee is charged for the delivery of food, require that the recipient be informed in advance of the fee being charged and agree to pay the delivery fee with funds other than CalFresh benefits.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 10072 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

10072.
 The electronic benefits transfer system required by this chapter shall be designed to do, but not be limited to, all of the following:
(a) To the extent permitted by federal law and the rules of the program providing the benefits, recipients who are required to receive their benefits using an electronic benefits transfer system shall be permitted to gain access to the benefits in any part of the state where electronic benefits transfers are accepted. All electronic benefits transfer systems in this state shall be designed to allow recipients to gain access to their benefits by using every other electronic benefits transfer system.
(b) (1) To the maximum extent feasible, electronic benefits transfer systems shall be designed to be compatible with the electronic benefits transfer systems in other states.
(2) (A) To the maximum extent feasible and to the extent permitted by federal law and the rules of the program providing the benefits, or pursuant to a waiver from the United States Department of Agriculture necessary to ensure the consumer protections provided in this paragraph, the electronic benefits transfer system shall do both of the following:
(i) Limit the purchase of food through an online transaction only to retailers that are authorized to accept CalFresh benefits by the United States Department of Agriculture and that comply with all of the following:
(I) Provide reasonable access to return or exchange the food within four hours of receipt of the food.
(II) Meet state and local food safety requirements.
(III) Provide an in-person confirmation of delivery in which the signature of the person delivering the food and of the person receiving the food is secured and stored by the retailers.
(ii)  (I) Prohibit the use of CalFresh benefits to pay a fee for the delivery of food purchased using CalFresh benefits through the electronic benefits transfer system.
(II) If a fee is charged for the delivery of food, require that the recipient be informed in advance of the fee being charged and agree to pay the delivery fee with funds other than CalFresh benefits. This fee shall be reimbursed immediately if an in-person confirmation of delivery pursuant to subclause (III) of clause (i) is not secured.
(B) (i) For the purposes of this subdivision, “retailer” shall mean means a grocery establishment, as defined by subdivision (d) of in Section 2502 of Part 9.5 of Division 2 of the Labor Code Code, a grocery store, as defined in Section 113948 of the Health and Safety Code, a commissary, a community-supported agriculture program, as defined in Section 47060 of the Food and Agricultural Code, or a restaurant that has entered into a memorandum of understanding with a county human services agency to serve elderly, homeless, or disabled CalFresh recipients who are elderly or homeless or who have disabilities through the CalFresh Restaurant Meals Program.
(ii) For the purposes of this subdivision,“commissary” means a store that sells food to the personnel or workers at a military post.
(c) All reasonable measures shall be taken in order to ensure that recipients have access to electronically issued benefits through systems including, but not limited to, automated teller machines, point-of-sale devices, or other devices that accept electronic benefits transfer transactions. Benefits provided under Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 11200) of Part 3 shall be staggered over a period of three calendar days, unless a county requests a waiver from the department and the waiver is approved, or in cases of hardship pursuant to subdivision (p).
(d) The system shall provide for reasonable access to benefits to recipients who demonstrate an inability to use an electronic benefits transfer card or other aspect of the system because of disability, language, lack of access, or other barrier. These alternative methods shall conform to the requirements of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 12101, et seq.), including reasonable accommodations for recipients who, because of physical or mental disabilities, are unable to operate or otherwise make effective use of the electronic benefits transfer system.
(e) The system shall permit a recipient the option to choose a personal identification number, also known as a “PIN” number, to assist the recipient to remember his or her number in order to allow access to benefits. Whenever an institution, authorized representative, or other third party not part of the recipient household or assistance unit has been issued an electronic benefits transfer card, either in lieu of, or in addition to, the recipient, the third party shall have a separate card and personal identification number. At the option of the recipient, he or she may designate whether restrictions apply to the third party’s access to the recipient’s benefits. At the option of the recipient head of household or assistance unit, the county shall provide one electronic benefits transfer card to each adult member to enable them to access benefits.
(f) The system shall have a 24-hour per day toll-free telephone hotline for the reporting of lost or stolen cards that will provide recipients, at no additional cost to the recipient, with information on how to have the card and personal identification number replaced, and that will allow an authorized representative or head of household to access, over the telephone, the transaction history detail for at least the last 10 transactions and to request that the transaction history detail for at least the past two months be sent by mail.
(g) The system shall have an Internet Web site that will provide recipients, at no additional cost to the recipient, with information on how to have the card and personal identification number replaced, and that will allow an authorized representative or head of household to view the transaction history detail for at least the last 10 transactions and to request that the transaction history detail for at least the past two months be sent by mail.
(h) In addition to the ability to receive transaction history detail pursuant to subdivisions (f) and (g), a county human services agency shall make available to an authorized representative or head of household, at no additional cost to the authorized representative or head of household, all electronic benefit transaction history details that are available to the county human services agency within 10 business days after a request has been received by the agency.
(i) (1) A recipient shall not incur any loss of electronic benefits after reporting that his or her electronic benefits transfer card or personal identification number has been lost or stolen. The system shall provide for the prompt replacement of lost or stolen electronic benefits transfer cards and personal identification numbers. Electronic benefits for which the case was determined eligible and that were not withdrawn by transactions using an authorized personal identification number for the account shall also be promptly replaced.
(2) A recipient shall not incur any loss of cash benefits that are taken by an unauthorized withdrawal, removal, or use of benefits that does not occur by the use of a physical electronic benefits transfer card issued to the recipient or authorized third party to directly access the benefits. Benefits taken as described in this paragraph shall be promptly replaced in accordance with the protocol established by the department pursuant to paragraph (3).
(3) The State Department of Social Services shall establish a protocol for recipients to report electronic theft of cash benefits that minimizes the burden on recipients, ensures prompt replacement of benefits in order to minimize the harm to recipients, and ensures program integrity. This protocol may include the automatic replacement of benefits without the need for recipient reporting and verification.
(j) Electronic benefits transfer system consumers shall be informed on how to use electronic benefits transfer cards, how to protect their cards from misuse, and where consumers can use their cards to withdraw benefits without incurring a fee, charge, or surcharge.
(k) The electronic benefits transfer system shall be designed to inform recipients when the electronic benefits transfer system does not function or is expected not to function for more than a one-hour period between 6 a.m. and midnight during any 24-hour period. This information shall be made available in the recipient’s preferred language if the electronic benefits transfer system vendor contract provides for services in that language.
(l) Procedures shall be developed for error resolution.
(m) A fee shall not be charged by the state, a county, or an electronic benefits processor certified by the state to retailers participating in the electronic benefits transfer system.
(n) Except for CalFresh transactions, a recipient may be charged a fee, not to exceed the amount allowed by applicable state and federal law and customarily charged to other customers, for cash withdrawal transactions that exceed four per month.
(o) The electronic benefits transfer system shall be designed to ensure that recipients of benefits under Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 11200) of Part 3 have access to using or withdrawing benefits with minimal fees or charges, including an opportunity to access benefits with no fee or charges.
(p) A county shall exempt an individual from the three-day staggering requirement under subdivision (c) on a case-by-case basis for hardship. Hardship includes, but is not limited to, the incurrence of late charges on an individual’s housing payments.
(q) A county shall use information provided by the department to inform recipients of benefits under Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 11200) of Part 3 of all of the following:
(1) The methods of electronic delivery of benefits available, including distribution of benefits through the electronic benefits transfer system or direct deposit pursuant to Section 11006.2.
(2) Applicable fees and charges, including surcharges, consumer and privacy protections, and liability for theft associated with the electronic benefits transfer system.
(3) How to avoid fees and charges, including opting for delivery of benefits by direct deposit and using the electronic benefits transfer card solely at surcharge free locations.
(4) Where to withdraw benefits without a surcharge when using the electronic benefits transfer system.
(5) That a recipient may authorize any available method of electronic delivery of benefits and instructions regarding how the recipient may select or change his or her preferred method of electronic delivery of benefits and that the recipient shall be given the opportunity to select the method prior to the first payment.
(6) That a recipient may be entitled to an alternative method of delivery if the recipient demonstrates an inability to use an electronic benefits transfer card or other aspect of the system because of disability, language, lack of access, or other barrier pursuant to subdivision (d) and instructions regarding how to determine whether the recipient qualifies for an alternative method of delivery.
(7) That a recipient may be entitled to an exemption from the three-day staggering requirement under subdivision (c) on a case-by-case basis for hardship pursuant to subdivision (o) and instructions regarding how to determine whether the recipient qualifies for the exemption.
(r) A county is in compliance with subdivision (q) if it provides the recipient a copy of the information developed by the department. A county may provide a recipient information, in addition to the copy of the information developed by the department, pursuant to subdivision (q), either verbally or in writing, if the county determines the additional information will benefit the recipient’s understanding of the information provided.