Lone Star Card - Good use or abuse?

Is the Texas Lone Star intended to help out Texans being abused?

A new study just released shows that Texas and New Mexico may both be behind compared to about half the country in restricting purchases.

While there are guidelines in place, all too often, they are circumvented and millions are spent on banned items.

Since its inception back in 1995, the Lone Star card was supposed to eliminate food stamps and with it, a lot of bartering or under the counter trading for cash or goods.

It's still the largest assistance program in the country, but not without it's problems.

Texas Health and Human Services does has a list of items that are not to be bought, but in many instances, cash may be drawn out or retailers just accept the items.

Lawmakers, like District 86's Representative, John Smithee, know people are sidestepping the card's original intention.

"But there are always loopholes where people can get through it, and those dollars are so precious, especially now...because there's such a demand for the welfare dollars that we have--that we have got to make sure they're being used the way they should."

From the Federal Government's standpoint, they're responsible for more than $16 billion to help out almost four and a half million people and often times those funds are illegally earmarked for the top three abuses: tobacco, alcohol and gambling.

"We really need to get that under control as best we can and to crack down on cases when those funds are being wasted or abused," Smithee said.

Smithee believes the Lone Star Card may have some changes made that actually become law and not just a guideline list on a website.

"The ball's now in our court and the legislature need to come in with technical expertiese and find out how to crack down on a lot of these abuses."

But that's for the legislature to decide when they re-convene in January of next year, but it won't come cheap.

It's estiamted that re-programming all the cards and restricting certain purchases could the state close to half a million dollars.