Legislation was introduced in several states to restrict the ability to use Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards at Rent-to-Own (RTO) businesses. While most RTO businesses do not normally take EBT cards, including RTO in a list of prohibited businesses such as liquor stores, casinos and strip clubs would unfairly tarnish the industry.
The client looked to Stateside to design and execute a strategy to keep this language from becoming law in any state after Massachusetts had included it in a law two years earlier.
- Stateside developed talking points on the history of EBT cards and Congressional intent on what SNAP (food only) and TANF (general assistance) funds are to be used for.
- Stateside also developed separate talking points with a number of examples where a TANF recipient might need to utilize RTO merchandise on a short term basis, such as renting a portable heater during a week or two of extra cold weather.
- Stateside worked with local store managers to prepare them to testify at legislative hearings and private meetings with committee members and bill sponsors. Stateside also accompanied them during testimony and meetings.
- In Massachusetts, Stateside recommended a lobbyist to work to change the recently passed law.
- The Massachusetts law was amended to remove the prohibition on EBT card use in RTO stores.
- In Rhode Island, authors agreed to remove RTO stores from the prohibited list.
- Bills were killed in all other states, so there are no prohibitions in any state for using EBT cards in RTO stores.