- Associated Press - Thursday, July 14, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri’s Social Services Department will need to have a third party review welfare rolls under a bill Gov. Jay Nixon on Thursday said he’ll allow to pass into law.

Nixon said he won’t sign the measure, but he’s not vetoing it. That will allow it to become law and will set a Jan. 1 deadline for the state agency to contract with a private company to check people’s eligibility for food stamps, child care, Medicaid and temporary assistance for needy families.

The company would flag questionable cases for state employees to review further. It would still be up to agency staff to make a final determination of eligibility.

Lawmakers in support touted it as a way to cut fraud and abuse. The final measure passed 30-0 in the Senate. It met pushback from House Democrats, who criticized a provision to create a permanent committee to study welfare as unnecessary. The measure passed that chamber 116-30.

The announcement by Nixon’s staff noted the Social Services Department already is pursuing a contract for independent reviews of welfare eligibility, which agency spokeswoman Rebecca Woelfel confirmed.

Nixon’s deadline to take action on legislation was Thursday. This year, he signed more than 100 bills into law, including a 16-bill budget package. The welfare measure was one of only three Nixon will allow to take effect without his signature. The governor also didn’t sign or veto two identical measures to allow volunteer fire protection associations to apply for grants to help pay workers’ compensation premiums.

The Democratic governor also this year vetoed 23 measures, including some tax breaks and a sweeping gun rights bill that would allow the concealed carry of firearms without a permit and expand residents’ rights to stand and fight against perceived threats.

The Republican-led Legislature will return in September to consider overriding Nixon’s vetoes.


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