Megan Lynch @MLynchOnAir

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – For nearly 20 years, drug felons have been barred from getting food stamps.

Now, a bi-partisan bill in the Missouri legislature would return those benefits.

Republican Representative Rick Brattin tells KMOX he has concerns the benefit cards would become currency on the streets, as they have in the past. “They’ve busted drug dealers that had the actual cards with the pin number and everything written on the card,” Brattin says.

He says he wants a strict “no tolerance” policy tied to food stamps for drug offenders. “We need to make sure they are being held accountable and aren’t falling back into that lifestyle,” he says.

Democrat Jeff Roorda, co-sponsor of measure, says it’s time to really look at who’s being punished by the ban. “While we want drug felons to pay their debt to society, we don’t want it to be a higher debt than other crimes and we don’t want their kids to go hungry in the process,” he says.

Roorda says someone trying to turn their life around already has a bigger challenge finding a job with a drug felony on their record. He says people with past convictions for rape, murder or robbery don’t have the same restrictions.

He adds under the current measure, food stamps would not be automatic — individuals would have to demonstrate their sobriety.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)



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