JEFFERSON CITY, Mo — A hearing was held today by the Committee on Government Oversight and Accountability, concerning four bills related to benefits programs.
The first two bills were presented by their sponsor, Rep. Wanda Brown, R-Lincoln. House Bill 1864 is an effort to verify a person’s eligibility for benefits provided by the state. Brown stated that the bill creates a “checks and balances system” for those receiving benefits through an automated process. In particular, the bill makes it so those eligible for benefits under the premise of being employed remain employed, and eligible for the duration of time they receive benefit.
“This is not to create hardship for people with benefits,” Brown said during the hearing.
No witnesses spoke during the hearing in favor or opposed to the bill.
House Bill 1861 would curb out-of-state spending of benefit money. If passed, the bill would establish that Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits that are spent out of state for a maximum consecutive amount of 90 days, would require the beneficiary to verify that they still qualify for these benefits and are Missouri residents. The auditor in charge of calculating and keeping track of the number TANF recipients and their expenditures found that 249 recipients used their benefits in non-bordering states for 90 consecutive days. Brown mentioned one recipient in particular who spent a consecutive amount of 338 days receiving and spending their benefits in the state of California last year. No witnesses spoke in support or opposition of this bill.
The next two bills were brought forth by Committee Chair, Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City. House Bill 1880 relates to TANF benefits as well. The bill would repeal the automatic administrative hearing conducted for recipients who test positive or refuse to test for controlled substances. Recipients would still be able to receive a hearing, but only upon request.
The bill that gained the most support during the hearing was presented last, House Bill 1879. The bill would be an effort to Establish a SNAP food stamps pilot project to encourage purchases of fresh fruit and vegetables.
“In urban areas there is not as much fresh food than other parts of Missouri” Barnes said.
Executive Director of the Menorah Legacy Foundation Gayla Brockman was on hand to testify in favor of HB 1879.
“We know that brining fresh healthy produce to people can have healthy outcomes” Brockman said.
Before ending the hearing, Barnes mentioned efforts to combine all of the benefits bills into a single bill.