Government
9:23 am
Fri March 1, 2013

Senate Passes Drug Testing for Welfare Bill

A bill that would require drug testing for some welfare and unemployment benefit recipients passed the Kansas Senate Thursday. It would require drug tests for some people enrolled in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, if they are suspected of drug use.

Senator Jeff King, an Independence Republican, says the goal of the bill is to help Kansans who have drug problems.

Democratic Senator Anthony Hensley tried  to add a provision that would also administer drug tests to business owners who receive economic development funds from the state.

“As legislators we’re stewards of taxpayers’ money. If we’re going to mandate drug tests for one group of individuals under reasonable suspicion, we should do it for all Kansans who receive any state funds,” says Hensely.

That proposal failed, but the bill was amended to allow testing for lawmakers suspected of using illegal drugs.

Under the bill, people who test positive for drugs would lose their state assistance, but their eligibility could be reinstated after completion of drug treatment and job training. The bill would also allow children to continue receiving benefits if their parents test positive for drugs.

Senate Vice President Jeff King has been pushing the bill. The Independence Republican is glad the bill advanced, even with the changes.

“We are identifying people who need treatment, we’re providing that treatment. We’re identifying children who are in need and making sure people administering those funds are drug free,” says King.

The bill will now be considered by the Kansas House.