Rep. Wanda Brown, R-Lincoln, sponsored the bill, which would allow people to use welfare cards to buy food at some liquor or convenient stores. The bill would ban purchases of alcohol, lottery tickets, tobacco products and adult material.
Brown said the bill helps people living in food deserts.
"I have three counties, 2,100 square miles, with only six towns that have grocery stores," Brown said. "A liquor store or convenience store might be all they have."
Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Jefferson County, said he is skeptical about the bill, citing concerns about potential abuse.
"Before we were keeping these folks out of here and away from the temptation, which is kind of what I thought the original purpose was," Roorda said. "If a liquor store wants to carry bread, for instance, and then ring up your bottle of Jack Daniels as bread, then the lines kind of blur."
Roorda also questioned the availability of foods like bread, milk and eggs in liquor stores.
Brown said liquor store employees would break the law if they rang up banned purchases like alcohol as food. She also said many foods like bread and milk are available at liquor and convenience stores.
While potentially expanding purchasing power, the bill would also tighten rules for food stamp users. It seeks a federal government waiver to require food stamp users to have a photo ID on their benefit card. It would also temporarily suspend benefits if a food stamp user did not use their welfare card during a 90 day period for at least one purchase inside the state of the Missouri.
The measure was approved with 118 state representatives voting in favor and 35 voting in opposition. The bill will now move on to the Senate.