Use drugs, lose assistance from the state, the gist of a bill passing the House and moving to the Senate.
Critics assailed the plan to strip Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, known as TANF, from anyone testing positive for drug use, still it passed Thursday on a 114-to-39 vote. It now moves to the Senate which has stalled in working on its own version.
Rep. Ellen Brandom (R-Sikeston) defended HCS HB 1377 during House floor debate with Rep. James Morris (D-St. Louis) who said her bill would inadvertently hurt poor children.
“Whose fault is it if they don’t have the money for the child?” Brandom asked Morris.
“Whose fault is it? It’s certainly not the child’s fault,” Morris responded.
“No, it’s the parents,” replied Brandom.
“But, we’re punishing the children,” Morris stated. “I agree with you. It’s not the children’s fault, but that’s who the victims are in this; the children.”
It is estimated that between 30,000 and 45,000 Missourians receive TANF benefits on any given month.
Other critics accused the bill of targeting minorities and those living in cities, charges Brandom denied during House floor debate. Another sticking point for critics was the cost. It is estimated that administering the drug tests would cost $2.6 million the first year and approximately $3 million each year thereafter.