Barclay wants background checks for wanted welfare recipients

Should Social Service agencies check the wanted status of people applying for public assistance?

An incident recently in Fulton has caused Assemblyman Will Barclay to introduce legislation that would require a type of background check on welfare recipients. Barclay has prefiled a bill in the State Assembly that would require Commissioners of Social Services to "request, receive and review information regarding the wanted felon portion of the national crime information center" of anyone applying for public assistance.

On October 10th, Fulton City Police responded to a complaint about a suspicious person in the parking lot of the Empower Federal Credit Union on South Second Street. When Police questioned 32-year-old Edward Lamar Moses, he presented a New York benefits card as his identification. Police found that he was wanted in the Darlington County, South Carolina on a charge of attempted murder and kidnapping. There was also a warrant for his arrest from the State of Georgia on a weapons charge.

Fulton Police found that Moses had been hiding out at a residence in Cato while receiving welfare benefits from the Department of Social Services. Moses has since been extradited to South Carolina.

The arrest not only brought about Barclay's legislation requiring counties to check the wanted status of welfare applicants, it also sparked a call by Oswego County legislators to test applicants for drugs before they qualify for benefits. As we reported on Tuesday, Oswego County Legislator James Karasek said the arrest of Edward Moses proved to him that the state had "completely lost control" over the process of checking the qualifications of people receiving public assistance.

Karasek convinced the Oswego County Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee to offer up Oswego County for a pilot program for drug tests as a requirement for receiving public assistance.

Assemblyman Barclay and State Senator Patty Ritchie have sponsored legislation in Albany requiring drug tests for welfare applicants statewide.

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