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TANF Penalties Come Under Scrutiny in Senate Hearing

Sarar Kellogg
Lawmakers meet for a hearing on April 4, 2018.

A House bill that limits how Missouri residents can spend temporary assistance funding received scrutiny during a Senate committee hearing Wednesday morning.

The legislation, which passed the House with a vote of 100 to 46, would stop residents from using their Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF cards, to access cash.


It also makes it illegal to purchase certain items like alcohol, tobacco products or pornography.

The legislation establishes a three-tiered punishment system, where the maximum penalty disqualifies a user from using TANF for a period of five years.

Representative J. Eggleston, R- Maysville, the bill’s sponsor, says the new policy would not cause any major changes for people who use EBT cards

“Every Walmart, every Dollar General and convenience stores take them. So, the necessity to convert them to cash to then turn around and buy something really isn’t there as much as it used to be anymore,” Eggleston said.

Colleen Coble, of the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, spoke against the bill, saying society is not completely cash free and cash is needed in some situations. 

“The whole TANF program design is now to get you into a job. How do you get into a job with dirty clothes? You can’t use an EBT card at a laundromat,” Coble said. 

Senator David Sater, R-Cassville, asked Coble suggestions on how to solve the problem of those abusing their TANF funding.

“You understand that there is a problem here, a problem with using the money from the EBD cards for things as mentioned for the bill?”

Coble disagreed.

“I don’t agree with the premise that this is a program rife with fraud,” Coble said.

If the legislation passes the Senate Seniors, Families and Children Committee, it will then head to the Senate floor.