A new social services bill in Kansas could issue some of the country's strictest rules on how welfare recipients spend state funds. Though the federal government has banned the use of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cash benefits on booze, gambling, and adult entertainment, Bill 2258 would block their use for tattoos and piercings; concert, sports, and movie tickets; bail; jewelry; massages; spa treatments; psychics or fortunetellers; and theme parks or swimming pools, the Christian Science Monitor reports. The bill passed the House last week with a 87-35 vote. Gov. Sam Brownback says the bill will steer those on state assistance into jobs and is expected to give it his signature, KCTV5 reports. The law would go into effect July 1.
The law would also restrict cash withdrawals from electronic benefits transfer cards to $25 a day to limit the purchase of non-essential items. But the Guardian reports recipients will typically be limited to $20 per day, as most ATMs only issue $20 bills. They will also be subject to fees. "We're trying to make sure those benefits are used the way they were intended," Sen. Michael O'Donnell tells the Topeka Capital-Journal. But critics at Kansas Action for Children say the limit on ATM withdrawals would force families trying to pay their rent or bills to visit ATMs over several days. "We're really adding to their burdens," a rep says. The Portland Press Herald reports Maine's Gov. Paul LePage has proposed restrictions on the use of cash benefits at smoke shops and lottery retailers, as well as new job-search conditions for those wanting assistance. (Read more welfare stories.)