Kansas Cracks Down|on Poor People

     TOPEKA, Kan. (CN) – Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed legislation Thursday that prohibits welfare recipients from spending cash assistance at swimming pools and lingerie shops and limits daily ATM withdrawals to $25 – but they can still spend the money on guns.
     House Bill 2258, approved 87-35 by the House and 30-10 by the Senate, will cap ATM withdrawals at $25 a day for Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF) recipients and restricts where they can spend that money.
     The bill bars TANF cash assistance from being used to buy alcohol or tobacco, and from being spent at a host of places, including jewelry stores, nail salons, casinos, spas, psychics, swimming pools, lingerie shops, massage parlors and cruise ships.
     But recipients may spend TANF money on guns.
     Brownback recently signed a separate bill that allows Kansas gun owners to bypass a permit and gun safety training for concealed carry of firearms.
     During the bill signing Thursday, Brownback said that typical government poverty programs are driven by “misguided compassion that exacted a human toll by allowing recipients to receive aid without engaging in job training programs or competing for a job.”
     “Too often, while well-intentioned, our poverty programs fail the poor,” the Republican governor said. “They fail them by keeping them in cycles of dependency. This legislation helps break that destructive cycle.”
     HB 2258 also requires able-bodied adults 18 to 49 years old, without dependents, to work at least 20 hours per week to receive welfare benefits and limits food assistance to three months in a 36-month period if they fail to meet that requirement.
     The law establishes a lifetime TANF funds ban for any adult living in a household where a person committed benefits fraud.
     Missouri is considering its own welfare reform bill that dictates acceptable grocery items for food stamp recipients. That bill would ban steak, chips, cookies, soft drinks and seafood.
     By signing HB 2258 into law, Brownback has added to the burden that the poorest Kansans already carry, said Shannon Cotsoradis, president and CEO of Kansas Action for Children.
     “This harmful legislation does much more than just restrict how TANF recipients can spend their cash – it also means families may never know they’re eligible for SNAP to help feed their children. It means married women must return to work immediately after having a baby and that assistance to offset the high cost of child care is harder to obtain,” Cotsoradis said.
     “It’s always been hard to be poor in Kansas. Now it’s going to be a lot harder.”

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