States consider drug tests for welfare recipients Mar 26 2009

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Shogun, Mar 26, 2009.

  1. Shogun
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    Shogun Free: Mudholes Stomped

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    CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Want government assistance? Just say no to drugs.

    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 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.

    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.

    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.

    My Way News - States consider drug tests for welfare recipients


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  2. Jon
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    Jon The CPA

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    Finally, something I can get on board with.
     
  3. Meister
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    Meister Platinum Member Supporting Member

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    Hell, that works for me. Maybe our tax dollars will go for food, and shelter, and not recreational entertainment.
     
  4. manu1959
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    manu1959 Left Coast Isolationist

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    yea..............................:clap2::clap2::clap2:
     
  5. Shogun
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    Shogun Free: Mudholes Stomped

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    oh PEEEEJAYYYYYy........




    I posted this JUST FOR YOU, homey...
     
  6. auditor0007
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    auditor0007 Gold Member

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    So, some guy who just lost his job smokes a joint and gets denied his unemployment benefits, even though he's a good solid worker, and he's looking for work everyday. Now he can't feed his kids or make his rent payment. Oh well, guess he'll learn. Of course, the guy sitting in the bar, closing it down everynight, and not even trying to find a job, will continue to collect his bennies and continue to drink them away. Alcohol is legal and all, so no biggie.
     
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  7. RightofCenter
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    RightofCenter Member

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    Yep, its that lousy logic that one thing is legal, so (fill in the blank) should be legal too, wont buy you a cup of air at the local cafe.

    Alcohol has destroyed enough lives, so lets back up and see you use that logic now. or will you tell us that pot is a harmless drug, and the only thing thats bad about it is that its illegal?

    In that case, tell me why in the early 80s, a well known and published MEDICAL report came out and stated that 1000s of pot smokers had quit, and were documented quitting, for the reason that they were feeling paranoid and unstable, the longer they smoked?

    Now...perhaps that explains all the poor mental health today, but its SURELY not a selling point for legalizing pot.
     
  8. Silver Diva
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    This is something that I would support. I really dont want my taxes going to support someone who uses my money to buy drugs. Now, I also agree that pot should be legalized, but I do not think the two are related.

    I fully support tobacco companies and cigarette sales. I think tobacco products should be used as a tax cow. Anytime states or the Feds need money, they should hike the taxes on tobacco and alcohol. If and when the legalize pot, they should tax pot sales in exactly the same way.
     
  9. manifold
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    manifold Diamond Member

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    I don't want my tax dollars being wasted on pointless drug testing.
     
  10. Father Time
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    Father Time I'll be Still Alive

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    So just to be clear, would you be in favor of denying the benefits to people who drink?
     

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