Assembly Approves Ramos, Wagner, Moriarty, Jimenez & Caputo Legislation to Encourage Use of Pre-Paid Debit Cards for Government Disbursements

(Trenton) – The full Assembly recently approved bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Ruben Ramos, Jr., Connie Wagner, Paul D. Moriarty, Angelica M. Jimenez, and Ralph Caputo to expand the state’s method of government disbursement such as gross income tax refunds or any applicable State and local payments to individuals or business entities.

The sponsors noted that the intent of both measures (A-3561 and A-3562) are to modernize the payment system to increase efficiency and provide a more accessible form of payment receipt for recipients lacking readily available access to banking institutions.

“It’s time to bring the state’s payment disbursement methods into the twenty-first century,” Ramos (D-Hudson). “Pre-paid cards would provide easier and faster access to refunds and payments.”

“Debit and credit cards are the preferred method of payment nearly everywhere,” Wagner (D-Bergen, Passaic). “It’s a simple option that would provide more versatility for the residents and more efficiency in government payment processing.”

“Improving the way payments are disbursed would be beneficial to both residents and to local and state government,” said Moriarty (D-Camden, Gloucester. “Encouraging a move to electronic forms of payment is a sensible step toward reducing expenses in a tough economy.”

“This legislation would increase access and convenience for anyone receiving money from the state or possibly local government too,” Jimenez (D-Bergen, Hudson). “In the situation where a reloadable card can be used, it could potentially save money in the long run.”

“Let’s streamline the process to allow residents’ the option to receive their payments by debit card,” Caputo (D-Essex). “This bill works well for everyone who wants to have access to their money quickly and with as little hassle as possible.”

The bill (A-3561) would provide for the distributions of gross income tax refunds via prepaid debit cards, under the purview of the Division of Taxation and potentially in time for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2013. Assemblyman Paul D. Moriarty is also a primary sponsor of this bill.

The second bill (A-3562) would potentially provide for state and local payments to be disbursed in a standardized debit card and depend upon ongoing review of financial feasibility for both government levels.

Both bills would require prepaid debit cards, issued pursuant to the bill, to have the following minimum characteristics: (1) Open Loop, the debit card must be redeemable at a variety of merchants and banks; (2) Redeemable for Products, Services or Cash; and (3) Reloadable or non-reloadable.

Each measure passed (A-3561) 67-8-1and (A-3562) 72-3. Both bills now head to the Senate for further consideration.