If someone applying for temporary public assistance is suspected of using drugs they would have to pass a drug tests before Missouri provides benefits under a bill approved in the House.
Rep. Ellen Brandom (R-Sikeston) sponsors HB 30 that would withhold Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, known as TANF, from those who test positive for drugs.
House Minority Leader Paul LeVota (D-Independence) questions Brandom on her intent. LeVota asserts the bill would hurt the children, though Brandom points out that though it withholds from the drug user, it relies on a third party to insure TANF continues to the children. It wouldn’t affect Medicaid or Food Stamps. Those who test positive for drug use would lose TANF benefits for a year.
Critics say the bill would hurt poor families and fails to adequately address the drug addiction, though it calls for those who test positive to be referred to a drug treatment program.
Brandom hopes losing benefits motivates a drug user to kick the habit, but states that if a person is using drugs, the taxpayer shouldn’t be required to subsidize their habit.
The bill passes on a 104-to-45 vote and moves to the Senate.