A GOP Bill Will Punish Children By Cutting Off Their Access To Food

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The bill follows prior legislation in Missouri that saw 23,000 children lose access to public assistance in two years.

Despite the fact that his previous food stamp legislation saw 23,000 children in Missouri lose benefits and failed to save the state money, Republican state Senator David Sater is back with new legislation that comes down even harder on Missourians receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

The bill...would punish people who fail to comply with federal work requirements of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, by cutting off not only their benefits but, if they're the head of a household, those of everyone else in the household as well.

The Cassville Republican's bill creates a three-strikes scenario of escalating penalties — the final blow being a permanent ban for the violator and up to 180 days without food stamps for others in the household.

Sater has shown his disdain for the SNAP program in the past with legislation that cut back on certain provisions of the program:

The proposed legislation is in line with Sater's campaign to hack away at assistance for the poor. He was the sponsor of a 2015 bill that sliced the amount of time families could collect welfare benefits to 45 months from 60. It also banned people from seeking a waiver from some of the work requirements tied to the benefits.

In the two years following the bill's implementation, 23,000 fewer children received public assistance -including both SNAP and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) - according to the Missouri Department of Social Services. But according to Sater, this type of law is necessary to give poor people an incentive to work.

“People are healthier when they work, their well-being is better,” Sater told KBAI in 2016 as the law's effects took hold. “That's our objective is for people to be self sufficient and not be on the government payroll.”

Sater's view of SNAP benefits is not share by everyone, and some legislators are working to either stop or diminish the effects of the bills. Senator Jacob Hummel (D-St. Louis) introduced legislation to repeal the initial changes, though action has yet to be taken on the measure.

Senator Scott Sifton (D-St. Louis) has tried to blunt the bill's potential effect on kids. He filed an amendment that would insert a line excluding children younger than eighteen. The amendment is pending.

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