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Mo. House committee votes to require drug testing for welfare recipients

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Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio
Members of the House Committee on General Laws passed legislation requiring welfare recipients to undergo drug testing in order to receive benefits on Wed. (Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

A Missouri House committee has passed legislation that would require some welfare recipients to undergo drug testing in order to receive benefits.

Members of the House Committee on General Laws took testimony from supporters and opponents before casting their votes.

Tom Edmonds of Springfield traveled to the State Capitol to voice support for having welfare recipients tested for drug use.

"You can spot someone who's tweaking on meth pretty easy," Edmonds told the committee.  "I see them using their EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) cards, and I'm thinking, 'There goes my tax dollars.'"

There were actually two identical bills that called for drug testing people on state benefits.  The committee merged them into one bill before approving it.   The revised bill passed 11-4.

One of the sponsors, State Representative Ellen Brandom (R, Sikeston), told the committee that job applicants are required to undergo drug testing, and those receiving state benefits should be required as well.

But Colleen Coble with the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence testified against the bill.

"We can take the money away from these families, the impact's going to hit on the kids, and we're not going to do anything to address ongoing drug abuse by people who have an addiction," Coble said.  "That isn't gonna be changed by this bill."

The bill now goes to the House Rules Committee.  If it passes there, it would then move to the floor of the Missouri House for preliminary approval.

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

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