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Twitter chat: Should the government tell welfare recipients how to spend their money?

A new Kansas law restricts the ways in which recipients of government assistance can spend their benefits. While many states have placed restrictions on how benefit cards can be used, prohibiting purchases such as alcohol, tobacco products and adult entertainment, the Kansas law goes further, banning the purchase of items ranging from lingerie to movie tickets. The law also limits ATM withdrawals of cash assistance to $25 per day. Similar legislation has been proposed in Missouri pertaining to that state’s food stamp program. The Missouri law would prevent food stamp recipients from buying cookies, chips and other junk food items, but also seafood and steak.

Supporters of these laws argue that state governments have a right to control the way funds they distribute are allocated. Dissenters claim the restrictions undermine government assistance programs and serve to dehumanize the nation’s poorest citizens. We invited you to weigh in on Twitter. Attorney Chelsi P. Henry (@chelsiphenry), who has written about how her own family’s experience with welfare has led her to support the Kansas and Missouri laws, joined the conversation, along with representatives of the advocacy group Kansas Action For Children (@KansasAction). Read the full conversation below.

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