SALT LAKE CITY -- A bill is making its way to Gov. Gary Herbert's desk that seeks to block welfare users from spending their government aid money at casinos, liquor stores and strip clubs.

The Utah Senate gave final approval to the bill on Thursday. Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, the Senate sponsor of the legislation, noted that Utah needed to pass the law to comply with a federal mandate.

He explained if Utah failed to put the restrictions in place that the state would lose federal money to fund the program that helps some of the state's poorest people.

Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, questioned the teeth of the bill as she wondered how enforcement of such a law will take place.

Weiler admitted there were some problems with enforcement. He noted that establishments like strip clubs and liquor stores in Utah would be notified that they are not to accept the federal debit-like cards that handle distribution of welfare money.

Weiler said persons found violating the rule would be forced to lose the money, be fined and asked to pay the money back.

Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, who sits on the committee that vetted the bill before it was heard on the Senate floor, explained that Utah does not have a serious problem of those on welfare using the money for these purposes.

Utah's Department for Workforce Services has said 91 percent of the recipients of the money are single mothers.

-- Billy Hesterman covers the Utah State Legislature and local politics for the Daily Herald. You can follow him on Twitter at: @billyhesterman
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