Massachusetts Senate approves bill intended to overhaul state's welfare system


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BOSTON — The Massachusetts Senate has approved a welfare overhaul bill.

The bill would revive a 1995 state program designed to help place welfare recipients in full-time work and require the Department of Transitional Assistance to assign specialists to help high-risk recipients.

The bill also includes a program to help recipients save money for first, last and security rent payments and education while stiffening penalties for store owners who knowingly allow the purchase of prohibited products or services with electronic benefits transfer cards.

It would also require welfare officials share information with police and the courts about recipients who have felony warrants.

The legislation initially came up for debate last week, but Senate Republicans pushed for a one-week delay saying they wanted more time to review the legislation.

The bill heads to the House.

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