Proposed bill would restrict foods stamps for unemployed

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JEFFERSON CITY - A Missouri senator is backing a bill proposal that would limit the amount of welfare recipients in Missouri by holding them to certain employment requirements.

Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, said the new bill would fix problems with the current system and help encourage more people to get back to work.

"The way the program is now, it's not working," Sater said. "I've taken ideas from states where similar programs have been implemented and have been shown to increase work activity."

The bill includes measures that would reduce the lifetime limit on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families from five years to two. Also, the bill would ban people convicted of "dangerous felonies" from receiving assistance. 

The bill would impose stricter employment requirements for welfare recipients. The proposed legislation would require that recipients be presently employed or at least in engaging in "work activities", for example, applying and searching for jobs.

Jeanette Mott Oxford, executive director of Empower Missouri, an organization that supports welfare programs, said the bill would put additional strains on unprivileged groups of people.

"The bill could make it worse on some families already struggling financially," Oxford said. "Taking away cash from those families can increase the chances for homelessness and other issues."

Sater said he expects the first vote on the bill by next Tuesday.