Welfare Reform Advances in Missouri Senate

This week the Missouri Senate gave first round approval to legislation making significant changes to the temporary assistance for needy families (TANF) program. A little less than 30,000 Missouri families receive TANF assistance.

As originally introduced, SB 24, sponsored by Senator David Sater (R-Cassville), reduced the period allowed for a person to receive TANF benefits during their lifetime from 60 to 24 months. A full family sanction in which a family would lose their entire TANF benefit could have been imposed without a caseworker ever meeting face-to-face with the recipient. The bill also barred ex-felons from receiving TANF benefits.

The MCC suggested a number of changes to SB 24, which Senator Sater agreed to and the Senate adopted. The lifetime benefit limit was raised from 24 to 48 months. The provision barring ex-felons from receiving help through TANF was dropped. New provisions were added to the bill to require face-to-face meetings with recipients. Before being deemed eligible for TANF benefits, recipients would sign a self-responsibility pact indicating their agreement to participate in required work activities. The bill retains current exemptions from work activities in hardship cases.

SB 24 will need to be third read and approved next week before it can move to the Missouri House for that body’s consideration. Stay tuned for more.

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