JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KDKZ-TV) A bill that would toughen penalties on people who misspend benefit money within a poverty program is on its way to the Missouri Senate.
House Bill 1443 affects the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which provides regular cash payments to more than 11,000 families.
Currently, if people spend benefit money on tobacco, alcohol or other prohibited items, or at businesses such as liquor stores or strip clubs, they must pay that money back – but they can remain in the program. Under the new bill, spending benefit money on a prohibited item or business would result in a three-month ban the first time, a six-month ban the second and a loss of benefits for five years for a third infraction.
The legislation also would bar recipients from using electronic benefit cards to withdraw money from ATMs.