A new audit released Tuesday finds that some welfare recipients in Missouri have used their benefits to buy things besides food and other daily necessities, while others may have moved away but continue to get in-state benefits.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has signed legislation that prohibits welfare recipients from using such funds at liquor stores, casinos or strip clubs.
The legislation also bars recipients from using cash benefits to buy anything marketed for adults while increasing penalties for people who are convicted of spending benefits improperly. The newly signed law brings Missouri into compliance with federal restrictions on purchases using Temporary Assistance for Needy Families electronic cash benefit cards.
Legislation is moving through the Missouri Senate that would strictly limit where Electronic Benefits Transfer, or EBT cards, can be used in the state.
State Senator Will Kraus (R, Lee’s Summit) is sponsoring Senate Bill 251. He says a new federal law that just took effect will ban EBT card use in casinos, liquor stores and adult entertainment venues.
“We’re taking that federal law (and) putting (it) into state statute," Kraus said. "But we’re also adding a few places that we think these cards shouldn’t be used at: amusement parks, entertainment events, athletic events, (or) to purchase alcohol, tobacco (or) lottery tickets.”
The Missouri House has given final passage to legislation that would require some Missourians on public assistance to undergo drug testing.
Under the bill, work-eligible recipients of the state’s Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program would lose that assistance for three years if they test positive for drug use or refuse to take a drug test.