KCUR News
5:21 pm
Tue May 10, 2011

Mo. House Passes Welfare Drug Testing Legislation

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Legislation that would require drug testing for some welfare recipients is on its way to Governor Jay Nixon.

Under the legislation, work-eligible recipients and applicants of the state's Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF, program would be barred from receiving benefits for three years if they test positive or refuse to take a drug test.

The bill overwhelmingly passed the Missouri House today. GOP House Member Ellen Brandom of Sikeston sponsored it:

"As everybody works so hard to pay their bills, they don't want to see any welfare money used for illegal substances."

Opponents say the bill does nothing to combat drug addiction among recipients, and that the loss of $58 a month will hit many poor families hard. Democrat Jeanette Mott Oxford of St. Louis voted "no:"

"Taking a tiny amount of money away from a family that's already living that poor is apt to do things like cause their electricity to be disconnected, cause them to lose any kind of housing that they have been able to secure," Mott said.

Several Democrats, however, joined with the Republican majority in voting "yes."