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Drug testing for those on welfare

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Poll

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

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I'm for it! Stop the moochers!

I'm against it!

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Total Votes: 100

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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 — notwithmytaxdollars.com — 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
Replies (101-104):
canthaveboys1
by on Mar. 30, 2009 at 12:38 PM


Quoting sassyandy124:

 

Quoting BooBooCat:



 

Yes, however, if I suspect a parent is doing drugs then I have to report them to CPS.  I have actually had to have children taken away from their parents before. It's much more difficult for a person without children to get and continue to get Food Stamps.  Then, if it is just them and they have a felony drug conviction, they do not receive benefits.

 BooBooCat


    So, they go out and have a kid, then apply for benefits. It happens all the time. Maybe they're not suppose to get aid but they do it happens all the time. The druggie parents benefit from the kids' benefits, which is one reason they have multiple kids.

yup it sure does! What is the point of reporting fraud when the state does nothing?

Canthaveboys1
genny-g
by New Member on Mar. 30, 2009 at 2:32 PM

i live in one of those states,(ks)  its cool but any way you look at it we are still gonna pay for these dead beats whop don,t want to work, yes you do piss test for a job, but i want to know about all these kids who have parents that smoke dope,  have anyone stoped tothink about all the kids that are part of this, my news paper said yesterday that piss testing all these people would or could put around 350,000  kids on the street, who cares about the dope smokers  it isn,t the kids fault that mom & pop smoke dope why should they be out on the street,....   i don,t think anyone has thought about this i mean come on , ya got bad all over  just not people on welfare, there is ways to beat a u.a. nothing is fool proof  COME ON PEOPLE THINK ABOUT IT ..... WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS

BooBooCat
by on Mar. 30, 2009 at 2:35 PM


Quoting canthaveboys1:


Quoting BooBooCat:


Quoting justgg:


Quoting BooBooCat:

Just so everyone will know.  It is Federal Policy that if someone has been convicted of a federal or state felony involving the possession, use or distribution of a controlled substance they are permanently barred from the Food Stamp program.   These people can never have food stamps.  If they have children, we can issue stamps for the children. 

BooBooCat

but you still have to give the parents the food stamp card right? soo they can still sell their food stamps for a fix!!!!

Yes, however, if I suspect a parent is doing drugs then I have to report them to CPS.  I have actually had to have children taken away from their parents before. It's much more difficult for a person without children to get and continue to get Food Stamps.  Then, if it is just them and they have a felony drug conviction, they do not receive benefits.

 BooBooCat

Is that a federal policy as well to call cps if you think a parent is doing drugs? If its not I think it should be.

If I had a client with children, and I saw evidence that that parent was using drugs, then, yes I would report them to CPS.  I have done so before and they removed the child and locked the parent up.  Anytime we see evidence that a child is in danger we HAVE to report it to CPS.  And a parent using drugs definitely places the child in danger. 

BooBooCat

SunandMoonMom
by Member on Mar. 30, 2009 at 3:47 PM

These sound like good ideas to me too. ;-)

Quoting BooBooCat:


Quoting cdgoldilocks:

I understand the premise of drug testing. However, it costs a LOT of money and takes a LOT of organization to test these clients. Government agencies aren't good with either of these. Also, what will happen if they test dirty? Are we going to cut them off and let their kids go hungry? See, I like the drug testing idea in theory, but how would we APPLY this law in a cost effective way? I think more focus should be getting recipients off their ass, into the birth control clinics and into school or work. I say they need to haul their asses into DSS M-F, 8-5pm just like the rest of us working folks and sit in a class all day and learn some life skills. Monday is cooking, Tuesday is budgeting, Wednesday-Thurs is job search day, Friday is guest speaker day. THAT is what I would spend my money on. Oh, and IF these lazy folks don't show up, they don't get paid that day. And IF they don't have money, then CPS will be at their house to see if their kids are being fed.

I like this idea.

BooBooCat


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