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Mo. House to debate drug testing bill this week

State Rep. Ellen Brandom (R, Sikeston)
Mo. House of Representatives
State Rep. Ellen Brandom (R, Sikeston)

The Missouri House is expected to debate legislation this week that would require drug testing for some welfare recipients in Missouri.

The bill would target applicants and recipients of the state's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF) who are classified as work-eligible.

It's sponsored by State Representative Ellen Brandom (R, Sikeston).

"People just aren't comfortable with seeing their tax dollars being given away and being used for illegal means, and we're not doing something to stop it," Brandom told reporters during a press availability today.

She also said the bill won't harm the children of a parent who tests positive.

"The parent would lose his or her $58, but the children's money would be given to a third party vendor to hold," Brandom said.  "Social Services may decide that should be a grandparent or an aunt or some other entity."

Brandom said families would still be able to receive Medicaid benefits, food stamps and housing if the prime recipient fails a drug test - he or she would only forfeit TANF money.

Opponents say the bill may violate recipients' constitutional rights, and that it does nothing to help those with drug addictions.

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.