For the past several weeks Democratic lawmakers have put up rigorous opposition to Gov. Paul LePage’s slate of welfare reform proposals.

However, there’s growing speculation that some Democrats are working on a compromise on at least one of the governor’s proposals. That bill, L.D. 1822, could come up for a vote in the House Thursday. The proposal would prohibit the purchase of certain products, such as booze, tobacco and lottery tickets with electronic benefit transfer — or EBT — cards through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program. 

Democrats have previously said that the law is likely costly and unenforceable, a conclusion that mirrors 2012 findings by the Government Accountability Office, which analyzed similar restrictions in other states. The problem is that EBT distributes cash benefits, the GAO found.

"With no controls on how or where individuals spend withdrawn cash, a recipient could withdraw money at an authorized location and use it at certain locations or for certain purchases restricted by some states."

That said, there are powerful politics at play here. The general public may not necessary make the distinction between enforcement logistics and what it knows is wrong: Taxpayer-funded benefits should not be used to purchased items that have little to do with lifting people out of poverty. 

That’s the political reality Democrats have been up against with LePage’s welfare bills, and L.D. 1822 in particular. That may be why there has been rampant speculation Thursday morning that an amendment to the bill is forthcoming that would draw Democrat and Republican support.

Stay tuned.  

Finally, here’s a deeper look at some of the EBT data that the LePage administration has been using to push another bill that would ban cash benefit transactions in states outside of Maine. Democratic opposition to that bill appears to be pretty solid.