New bill aims to restrict usage of TANF and SNAP benefits

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JEFFERSON CITY- The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program  (SNAP) could be seeing new restrictions if House Bill 1443 becomes law.

The bill, sponsored by J. Eggleston, R-Maysville, would restrict people in these programs from pulling money off EBT cards at ATMs. 

It would also add pornography to the list of prohibited purchases. Currently that list only prohibits the following: 

  • electronic benefit transfer transaction in any liquor store, casino, gambling casino, or gaming establishment
  • any retail establishment which provides adult-oriented entertainment in which performers disrobe or perform in an unclothed state for entertainment, 
  • any place for the purchase of alcoholic beverages, lottery tickets, or tobacco products or for any item the department determines by rule is primarily marketed for or used by adults eighteen or older and is not in the best interests of the child or household.

Eggleston said, "We're spending, that we know of, 19.2 million dollars of taxpayer money every year that gets cashed out."

But another lawmaker says it's not the prohibited purchases that bother him, its the fact that families can't pull money out of ATMs from their EBT cards.

"We have to keep in mind, we're talking about temporary assistance for needy families. So when we talk about the families, we're talking about the kids," said Rep. Richard Brown, D-Kansas City. "It's going to keep people from doing things like go to the laundromat, if they need money, the kids clothes are dirty."

Brown was a school teacher in Kansas City for 24 years and he said he's seen how TANF and SNAP restrictions can affect students.

"Children don't like to go to school with dirty clothes. I was a school teacher for 24 years. I would have children that were actually put in in-school suspension because they didn't have a clean uniform."

Brown also said this hurts people who don't have stable transportation.

"This hurts poor families, if they need a ride to go to the grocery store, they're unable to take out money to be able to pay for gas, or a friend to take them there, or even to use an Uber."

Eggleston said these concerns are legitimate but the bill is trying to crack-down on those who abuse the current uses of funds.

"Most recipients have some other form of attaining cash. In fact, in the TANF program, we do have a work requirement. You're supposed to be looking for work, if not have a paying job of some sort," Eggleston said. "We just want to be good stewards of taxpayer money. Make sure its spent on helping people get to that next level of self-sufficiency."