Welfare recipients could be required to undergo drug testing

KANSAS CITY, Missouri - Missouri welfare recipients may soon have to undergo drug testing to keep their benefits.  Legislation that would require recipients to live drug free is on the governor's desk.

The House signed off on House Bill 73 Wednesday morning. Under the bill, welfare recipients would lose their TANF benefits for three years if they fail a urine test that screens for narcotics. The House originally said one year, but the Senate increased it to three.

TANF stands for temporary assistance to needy families.

Sherri Marcott is homeless, and has been drug free for three years. She supports the bill.

"if you are using you shouldn't get the TANF because it's for the children. It's not there to support your drug habit," said Marcott

ReStart is a homeless shelter that provides services to needy individuals and families. ReStart executive director Evie Craig says the drug testing will hurt families, who are trying to get ahead.

"To be denied this benefit will really put themselves and their children right back on the street, without that income you can't get into subsidized housing," said Craig

Missouri Representative Ellen Brandom sponsored the bill. She says it has provisions to protect the children, by reassigning the child's benefits.

"Only the parent would lose the money. The children's money would be given to a third party protective payee," said Brandom.

Brandom says this legislation will help deter recipients from using illegal drugs. The Senate also added a provision to the bill to require that the electronic cards used to claim welfare benefits include a photo of the recipients and be renewed every three years.

House bill 73 is now on the governor's desk.

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