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Nixon signs bill banning public aid at casinos and liquor stores

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Gov. Jay Nixon signed legislation on Monday to prohibit the use of electronic benefit cards at liquor stores, casinos or adult entertainment establishments.

The bill – sponsored by Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit, and co-sponsored by Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City – bars an EBT card, a debit card accessing government benefits, from being used "in any place or for any item that is primarily marketed for or used by adults 18 or older" or "is not in the best interests of the child or household." That includes liquor stores, casinos and adult entertainment facilities.

Any prohibited business that knowingly accept EBT cards will be subject to fines. The bill also bolsters penalites for public assistance fraud, which includes the unlawful receipt, conversion or transfer of benefits.

“Here in Missouri, we believe in protecting taxpayers and strengthening families – and that is what these programs are designed to do,” Nixon said in a statement. “By strengthening existing protections for taxpayers and children, and cracking down on those who misuse public funds, this bill will help ensure these programs continue to provide temporary support for needy families and children in a proper and accountable way.”

Although he’s gained attention in recent days for vetoing bills from the GOP-controlled legislature, Nixon spent Monday signing some less controversial measures into law. They include:

  • SB 127: Reauthorizes “Ticket to Work,’’ a state program for disabled adults that offers special personal care so they can work; adds advanced practice registered nurses to a list of professionals eligible for Medicaid reimbursement for prescribing medication; and extends health care coverage to children in foster care up to age 26.
  • HB 986: Creates the Missouri Senior Protection Fund and allocates close to $56 million for low-income and disabled seniors and children's programs such as First Steps. First Steps is an early-childhood education program for developmentally disabled children that got caught in a power play between Gov. Jay Nixon and Republican legislative leaders over an unrelated tax credit for elderly and disabled renters. The passage of Rep. Jay Barnes' bill essentially ended the standoff.
  • SB 161: Launches “an analysis of cost parity between orally administered cancer medications and their intravenous equivalent and health coverage for eating disorders.”
Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.