Missouri House Votes To Up Penalties Within Poverty Program

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri House has passed a measure that would toughen penalties for people who misspent benefit money within a poverty program.

The bill, approved Thursday in a 100-46 vote, would create a three-strike policy for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which provides cash payments to low-income families.

Benefits could be revoked for months or years if people spent money on a prohibited item or business, such as cigarettes or a liquor store.

The bill also would no longer allow recipients to withdraw cash at an ATM using their benefit cards.

Proponents say the changes would help eliminate fraud and abuse. Opponents say the changes would hurt the poor.

The bill now head to the Senate.

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