SALT LAKE CITY -- House Bill 209, which would prevent welfare recipients from spending public money on alcohol, gambling and adult entertainment, passed a House Commitee Monday morning.
The bill would regulate how Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds are spent. In Utah, 2,000 people participate in the TANF program each year. Each recipient gets $300/month, which can be spent on things like rent, food, clothing and medical needs.
The federal government, which provides the TANF funds, has mandated states to make laws that outline three areas where TANF funds are forbidden from use.
"This will increase regulations in terms of what can and can't be used. And, really, whenever you have money that's provided on a free basis, most people understand that you have to put some sort of guardrails in place to make sure that they're used for the [...] purpose that they were intended to be used," said Rep. Derek Brown, the bill's chief sponsor.
Since Utah already has a system that prevents TANF spending on alcohol, gambling and adult-oriented businesses and entertainment, H.B. 209 is a essentially a formality to show that the state is in compliance with federal regulations.
The State of Utah receives approximately $88 million in TANF funding each year.