Bill Would Require Drug Testing For Welfare Applicants

Jan 21, 2013

A Republican state lawmaker want to make passing a drug test a requirement for receiving welfare benefits.

Although it faces near-certain death with a Democratic majority in the House, State Representative Jeanine Notter hopes her bill at least starts a conversation on welfare reform.  

Notter is co-sponsoring legislation requiring drug testing for applicants of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. 

Parents who test positive for an illegal drug would lose benefits for a year.

Children could still receive assistance through a third party.  Notter says it’s an effort to reform a welfare program she believes is rampant with abuse.

"There's people out there who know all the loops in the system and it just needs to be reformed. Maybe one way to do it is drug testing."

Welfare applicants would be responsible for covering the cost of the drug test, but would be reimbursed if they test negative.

The Department of Health and Human Services estimates it would cost roughly $230,000 each year to pay for the tests. 

A similar law was passed in Florida in 2011, but a judge temporarily halted the program after a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union challenged its constitutionally.