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Drug testing for those on welfare

Posted by on Mar. 26, 2009 at 8:35 AM
  • 104 Replies



Question: To stop all the welfare abuse are your for, against, or other?


I'm for it! Stop the moochers!

I'm against it!

There's always an

Only group members can vote in this poll.

Total Votes: 100

View Results

MSNBC report

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Lawmakers in at least eight states want recipients of food stamps, unemployment benefits or welfare to submit to random drug testing.

The effort comes as more Americans turn to these safety nets to ride out the recession. Poverty and civil liberties advocates fear the strategy could backfire, discouraging some people from seeking financial aid and making already desperate situations worse.

Those in favor of the drug tests say they are motivated out of a concern for their constituents' health and ability to put themselves on more solid financial footing once the economy rebounds. But proponents concede they also want to send a message: you don't get something for nothing.

'Nobody's being forced'
"Nobody's being forced into these assistance programs," said Craig Blair, a Republican in the West Viginia Legislature who has created a Web site — — that bears a bobble-headed likeness of himself advocating this position. "If so many jobs require random drug tests these days, why not these benefits?"

Blair is proposing the most comprehensive measure in the country, as it would apply to anyone applying for food stamps, unemployment compensation or the federal programs usually known as "welfare": Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Women, Infants and Children.

Lawmakers in other states are offering similar, but more modest proposals.

On Wednesday, the Kansas House of Representatives approved a measure mandating drug testing for the 14,000 or so people getting cash assistance from the state, which now goes before the state senate. In February, the Oklahoma Senate unanimously passed a measure that would require drug testing as a condition of receiving TANF benefits, and similar bills have been introduced in Missouri and Hawaii. A Florida senator has proposed a bill linking unemployment compensation to drug testing, and a member of Minnesota's House of Representatives has a bill requiring drug tests of people who get public assistance under a state program there.

A January attempt in the Arizona Senate to establish such a law failed.

Crisis adds pressure to budgets
In the past, such efforts have been stymied by legal and cost concerns, said Christine Nelson, a program manager with the National Conference of State Legislatures. But states' bigger fiscal crises, and the surging demand for public assistance, could change that.

"It's an example of where you could cut costs at the expense of a segment of society that's least able to defend themselves," said Frank Crabtree, executive director of the West Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Drug testing is not the only restriction envisioned for people receiving public assistance: a bill in the Tennessee Legislature would cap lottery winnings for recipients at $600.

There seems to be no coordinated move around the country to push these bills, and similar proposals have arisen periodically since federal welfare reform in the 1990s. But the appearance of a cluster of such proposals in the midst of the recession shows lawmakers are newly engaged about who is getting public assistance.

Particularly troubling to some policy analysts is the drive to drug test people collecting unemployment insurance, whose numbers nationwide now exceed 5.4 million, the highest total on records dating back to 1967.

"It doesn't seem like the kind of thing to bring up during a recession," said Ron Haskins, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "People who are unemployed, who have lost their job, that's a sympathetic group. Americans are tuned into that, because they're worried they'll be next."

Indeed, these proposals are coming at a time when more Americans find themselves in need of public assistance.

Soaring unemployment claims
Although the number of TANF recipients has stayed relatively stable at 3.8 million in the last year, claims for unemployment benefits and food stamps have soared.

In December, more than 31.7 million Americans were receiving food stamp benefits, compared with 27.5 million the year before.

The link between public assistance and drug testing stems from the Congressional overhaul of welfare in the 1990s, which allowed states to implement drug testing as a condition of receiving help.

But a federal court struck down a Michigan law that would have allowed for "random, suspicionless" testing, saying it violated the 4th Amendment's protections against unreasonable search and seizure, said Liz Schott, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

At least six states — Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Wisconsin and Virginia — tie eligibility for some public assistance to drug testing for convicted felons or parolees, according to the NCSL.

Nelson said programs that screen welfare applicants by assigning them to case workers for interviews have shown some success without the need for drug tests. These alternative measures offer treatment, but can also threaten future benefits if drug problems persist, she said.

They also cost less than the $400 or so needed for tests that can catch a sufficient range of illegal drugs, and rule out false positive results with a follow-up test, she said.

by on Mar. 26, 2009 at 8:35 AM
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Replies (1-10):
by Member on Mar. 26, 2009 at 8:37 AM


Crazy Me! Audrey

by on Mar. 26, 2009 at 8:39 AM

i am all for it! if you have to pass a piss test to get a job, ( and that is just about anywhere now) then you should to get aid. if you truely need the aid to care for your family at the time, you shouldn't be wasting what money you have for drugs, and therefore should be clean and be able to get the aid. if you waste tax dollars on drugs and not use it for food or clothing or housing, then you should be booted off it!

by on Mar. 26, 2009 at 8:43 AM

absolutely..  if our tax money is going for them to use drugs..  we need to say. hey  ..



by on Mar. 26, 2009 at 8:48 AM

Quoting dr_m:

absolutely..  if our tax money is going for them to use drugs..  we need to say. hey  ..



LOL, good answer!  I agree, if they have money to do drugs, they have money to feed their family.  My loser brother's girlfriend is preggo with their first child and he isn't working but always has money for his weed.  I know they will be on welfare when the baby comes and I hope that someone drug tests them.

by Member on Mar. 26, 2009 at 9:03 AM

I'm all for this!

by Member on Mar. 26, 2009 at 9:07 AM

holy cow! after I voted and saw that 100% voted for it I was shocked! but I do think it could be a good idea.

by on Mar. 26, 2009 at 9:08 AM

I am all for it. I think that there should also be a time limit that you have to claim the benefits for as well. If you are unable to work for a ligitimate reason that is one thing, but just because you dont want to that is totally another thing. I would rather pay for a drug test than for unlimited benefits for people that really dont need them! 

by Bronze Member on Mar. 26, 2009 at 9:10 AM

    Hell yes they shoudl be drug tested. Not only the person that is applying but everyone that lives in the house. They are all benefiting from  tax dollars they should damn well be drug free. They also need to keep testing them not just a one time thing. Minimum every three months, everyone should be tested for everything. Pot, coke, meth, prescription drugs etc...It should also be surprise. 24hr notice at the most.

   Those who can't get behind our troops should feel free to stand in front of them!!!!!

by on Mar. 26, 2009 at 9:12 AM

If my dh and I have to piss in a cup to keep getting assistance then sure. We don't do durgs. I agree if you have money to waste on drugs then why get help from the goverment.

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by on Mar. 26, 2009 at 9:22 AM

If someone has money for drugs they should not have a right to get assistance from welfare.  There are plenty of us that could really use the help, but "make too much money"  and then we see druggies with Vision cards and carts full of food.  It's just wrong.  I think they should get the illegals off it too.

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