Senate OKs strip club restrictions on welfare money

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A bill restricting the use of welfare funds in strip clubs, casinos and liquor stores passed the Utah Senate Thursday as the state attempts to comply with federal law.

Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said HB209 must become law before February 2014 so the state can continue to disperse federal public assistance money.

The measure passed 26-1 — the lone dissent coming from Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem.

Dayton questioned how it would be enforced and if the burden of proof would be placed on businesses or law enforcement to track how and where welfare money is spent.

Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, voted for the measure, but questioned the overall need for it.

"Is this a big problem?" Dabakis asked. "Do we have a lot of welfare people in strip clubs and casinos?"

Weiler said there is no evidence of a major problem — it is strictly a federal mandate required of the state.

The measure would require the Utah Department of Workforce Services to inform benefits recipients that they can't use the money at strip clubs, casinos and liquor stores. It also would require the owners of those establishments to be told they can't accept those funds in their places of business.

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