Illinois legislators have voted against letting people with drug-related convictions receive welfare benefits.
Supporters said when drug offenders lose welfare benefits, it punishes their children, who did nothing wrong, but still rely on public assistance. Among those supporters was State Representative Carol Ammons of Urbana.
“This bill does change eligibility for those who come out of institutions with little to no resources or support,” said Ammons.
Despite the growing heroin epidemic in the state, members of both parties did not buy the argument.
Representative David Reis is a Republican from Willow Hill.
“You know if you’re not putting other things on the table and taking care of your family, you’ve got the money to buy these drugs. And why should someone who’d be taking drugs be getting these benefits?,” said Reis.
Opponents of the measure said Illinois should go the other way - requiring a drug test before people receive welfare or food assistance.
No Democrats spoke out against the proposal, but it got just 36 votes, less than two-thirds of what’s required to pass.
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