A legislative panel in Oklahoma approved a bill requiring drug testing of welfare recipients.
House Bill 2388 passed 6-2 by a budget subcommittee on human services and now moves on to the full House, reports The Oklahoman. Before receiving money through the federal cash-assistance Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, it would require adult applicants to be tested for drug use. About 5,000 adults get assistance from the program.
The bill’s main author, Rep. Guy Liebmann, said its purpose is to stop government money from going to people who spend it on illegal drugs, adding its similarity to a 2011 Florida law that has been challenged in federal court.
The state currently screens clients for drug and alcohol abuse and requires testing if the screening indicates it is necessary. Individuals who test positive, currently five percent, are sent for treatment but not allowed to receive the benefit, said Sandra Harrison, Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services’ chief administrative officer. She added that the assistance is revoked if the individual stops going to work or school.
Oklahoma joins the growing number of states considering drug testing for welfare recipients. A group of lawmakers in Kansas are supporting a proposal that would require one-third of welfare recipients to undergo random drug screening. Officials in Pennsylvania announced they are introducing a new drug testing program for certain welfare recipients. Pennsylvania’s program will randomly test those with a felony drug conviction within the past five years, and those on probation for such crimes. A program introduced in Florida last year to test all welfare recipients was blocked by a federal judge.
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