JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KMOX) - Will a bipartisan effort to stop the misuse of state assistance for the needy gain enough steam to make it out of committee?
“I was astounded when I saw that there were withdrawals that were not only out of the state but in high-travel areas,” Missouri State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal said. That astonishment at the misuse of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds led Chappelle-Nadal to co-sponsor Senate Bill 215.
The Democratic senator said $360,000 was spent outside the state in January alone, some at amusement parks and casinos in places as far-flung as California and Florida.
The bill, sponsored by Chappelle-Nadal and Lee’s Summit Republican Will Kraus, would not allow recipients to use public assistant to buy tobacco, alcohol, or go to games or strip clubs. Penalties would include fines, prison, and restitution.
Chappelle-Nadal hopes the bill is voted out of committee in the next two weeks. When asked what sort of opposition the bill has faced, she said simply “none.”
“In fact, I’ve gotten so many compliments from throughout the state,” she added.
In the past, Chappelle-Nadal has not supported restrictions to public assistance, such as drug testing for recipients, calling them “restrictive.”