Missouri Moves to End Lifetime Food Stamp Ban for Drug Convictions

The Missouri House and Senate have both passed a bill that will lift the restriction on persons with drug felony convictions from receiving food stamps, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports. Missouri is one of the last nine states – with Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming – to maintain the lifetime ban on food stamps that began under President’s Clinton welfare reform. In the 18 years since “reform of welfare as we know it,” the ban has been repealed in 16 states and modified in another 25 according to a report by the Sentencing Project.

SB 680 passed 27-3 in the Missouri Senate and then 122-19 in the House on May 15, 2014, veto proofing the measure.  It now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon. Even without the governor’s signature, the law would go into effect in July.  

During testimony on the bill, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported, Johnny Waller, Jr. from Kansas City, told legislators he had been convicted on selling marijuana at the age of 18. Now his son has been diagnosed with cancer, and Waller had to quit his job to care for him. He is back at work but is afraid of layoff rumors at work.

“I can go buy a firearm but I can’t get assistance to buy a sandwich,” he said. In 2011, he was pardoned by the state’s governor removing the restriction on owning a firearm but not on receiving food stamps.