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Measures to Test Welfare Applicants for Drugs Advance in Texas, Kansas

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Bills that would require drug testing for welfare applicants advanced in Texas and Kansas this week.

In Texas a bill that would have resulted in children permanently losing benefits based on a third failed drug test by a parent was amended. The bill’s author accepted changes to ensure children would continue to receive benefits while their parents are in rehabilitation programs, the Austin American-Statesman reports.

Based on these changes, the state’s Health and Human Services Committee voted to approve the bill.

Under the bill, welfare applicants in the state would undergo drug screening. If the results indicated good cause to suspect drug abuse, applicants would be required to undergo drug testing. Applicants with previous felony drug convictions, or a prior positive drug test, also would be required to undergo drug testing. Applicants who tested positive would lost benefits for a year, but could reapply in six months, after they passed another drug test.

Children would receive benefits regardless of their parents’ drug test results.

The Kansas House approved a bill that would require drug testing of applicants for welfare or unemployment if they were suspected of drug abuse, according to The Wichita Eagle.

Under the Kansas bill, applicants who failed drug tests would be required to participate in drug treatment and job skills training, paid for by the state and federal government. If they applied and failed again, they would lose benefits for a year.

Anyone convicted of a drug felony would be barred from receiving welfare for five years. A second conviction would lead to a lifetime ban, the article notes.

The Kansas Senate has already approved the measure. According to the newspaper, the Senate is likely to agree to several minor changes approved by the House, before advancing the bill to Governor Sam Brownback.

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