Lawmakers in Ohio, Virginia and Kansas say they will introduce legislation that would require welfare recipients to undergo drug tests before receiving benefits, according to MSNBC.
In Ohio, the proposed law would establish drug-testing programs in three counties. If applicants disclosed they had used illegal drugs, they would have to submit to a drug test. The bill would allocate an additional $100,000 for drug treatment programs.
In Virginia, a drug-testing law that previously was rejected has been revived. The earlier version failed after the state concluded it would cost $1.5 million to implement, but would save only $229,000.
Kansas State Senate Vice President Jeff King, who introduced a drug-testing bill in his state, said it is not intended to punish welfare recipients. “If folks test positive, we need to help them get help and help them get the job skills they need to kick the habit to get a job and keep a job,” he said.
Last month, Texas Governor Rick Perry called for drug tests for residents seeking welfare or unemployment benefits. Perry and Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst want to expand a bill that will come before the state legislature next year that would mandate drug testing for “high-risk” welfare applicants, and would ban them from using public funds to purchase alcohol, tobacco or lottery tickets. Perry and Dewhurst want the rules to also include those applying for unemployment benefits.
A Florida law that required welfare applicants to undergo drug testing was halted last year after the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida sued the state to stop it. About 2.5 percent of the 4,000 adults tested before the program was stopped tested positive for drugs. Almost 2,500 people refused to take the drug test.