(01/18/13) - It is illegal for anyone in the state who has an outstanding felony warrant to receive welfare benefits.
It's been difficult for state agencies to enforce the law, but legislation signed in 2011 by Gov. Snyder makes it easier to find those breaking the law.
The state has launched a new initiative this week to arrest those who are wanted by police, but are still receiving state benefits. It's not clear how many people are breaking that law, but it appears several dozen people have been arrested in Saginaw and Bay Counties this week.
Saginaw County court records indicate some people have been arraigned this week, charged on outstanding felony warrants from everything to domestic violence to retail fraud. The Michigan State Police is conducting sweeps across Michigan, arresting those wanted on outstanding warrants and receiving welfare benefits at the same time.
"The state should have probably cracked down on this a long time ago," said Anna Rivette, of Freeland.
The legislation signed by Gov. Snyder required the state to develop an automated system that would allow the state police and the Department of Human Services to cross-check the names of people receiving public assistance, against a database of outstanding felony warrants.
Rivette does not receive state assistance, but hopes it will be there if she should need it one day.
"Those that have outstanding warrants, they need to go and clear up their issues, and most likely they can qualify too if they are truthful to the system," she said.
James Brown lives in Saginaw, and is not on any type of assistance, but believes the crackdown makes sense.
"I think it's good the state is doing that," he said. "I don't think it's fair for the ones that need it the most and are not receiving it."
The Michigan State Police acknowledge that arrests are being made, but did not want comment on how many at this point.
ABC12 Main Station