Members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives have unanimously approved a bill targeting welfare fraud in Oklahoma.
Senate Bill 456, by state Sen. Josh Brecheen and state Rep. Arthur Hulbert, is designed to help reduce fraud in Oklahoma by requiring every county office of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to post information on how people can report fraud through a toll-free hotline and that they can do so anonymously.
“Fraud by anyone is a lie that costs our state money and diverts funds away from those that truly need it,” said Hulbert, R-Fort Gibson. “I enjoyed working with Senator Josh Brecheen on this legislation and am pleased with the overwhelming bipartisan support it has received.”
Brecheen encouraged Oklahomans to report fraud to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
“Public assistance fraud costs Oklahoma taxpayers millions of dollars every year. This is an issue that negatively impacts all Oklahomans but DHS simply doesn’t have the workforce to constantly check up on the thousands of public assistance recipients in our state. They need the public’s help by being vigilant in their communities and reporting suspected fraud,” said Brecheen, R-Coalgate.
“As legislators and citizens, it's our duty to be good stewards of tax dollars and this bill will help ensure that assistance goes to families who truly qualify and that funds aren’t allocated through fraudulent means.”
The legislation was developed in consultation with and the support of the DHS Office of Inspector General. Such signage has been printed and dispensed sporadically before but displaying it has never been a statutory requirement for county DHS offices. The emphasis on anonymity encourages people to report fraud without fearing for their employment or personal relationships, Brecheen said.
The legislation was approved by a 95-0 vote in the Oklahoma House of Representatives and previously by a 41-0 vote in the Oklahoma Senate.
It now advances to the desk of Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin.