Privacy: Kansas House Passes Bill Mandating Drug Tests for Public Assistance

The Kansas House Wednesday gave final approval to a bill that requires Kansans who seek public assistance to undergo drug testing. The bill, HB 2275, passed by a margin of 99-26. It now heads to the state Senate.

Sponsored by Sen. Kasha Kelly (R-Arkansas City), the bill targets the 14,000 Kansans who receive cash assistance from the state Department of Social Rehabilitation Services. Recipients of financial support in temporary aid for families, general assistance, child care support, and grandparents as caregivers programs would all be subjected to drug testing. It would not apply to non-cash benefits, such as food stamps and medical care.

The bill envisions testing one-third of the target population each year. A positive drug test would result in an evaluation and possible drug treatment. Failure to complete evaluation and/or treatment would result in the termination of benefits, as would a third positive drug test.

As the Chronicle reported last week Kansas is only one of a number of states where legislatoes are pushing similar bills. Drug testing public assistance recipients was okayed, but not required, under the 1996 federal welfare reform bill. But the only state to actually implement such a plan, Michigan, was shot down by the federal courts, which held that it violated the Fourth Amendment's proscription against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Kelly, unconcerned about constitutional niceties, said the state should work to keep parents off drugs and advance the interests of children. "Shouldn't you be fearful if you're using?" she said on the House floor.

Social Rehabilitation Services Secretary Don Jordan testified that only 3% to 8% of clients would likely test positive for marijuana, cocaine, or other illegal drugs. That figure is slightly below overall nationwide drug use levels. The program would cost $800,000 a year, he said. The bill will not be implemented unless the legislature makes a specific appropriation to cover the cost, but in a fiscal note, legislative analysts suggested the possibility of using asset forfeiture proceeds to fund the program.

The bill was opposed by the Kansas Public Health Authority, but legislators proved receptive to arguments like those of Rep. Brenda Landwehr (R-Wichita), head of the House Health and Human Services Committee, who said if the bill failed to pass it is as if the legislature would be declaring: "Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, we don't really care if someone buys drugs with your hard-earned money."

Rep. Marti Crow (D-Leavenworth) wasn't buying it. "Testing someone because they're poor? Where does that make any sense?" he asked. "This is crazy and mean."

But Crow was in the minority. The bill now goes to the state Senate.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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That's what you get when you turn over charity to government.

Charity should be in the hands of the community not in the hands of fickle politicians. Don't get mad at them you are the ones who put them in power and then gave them the authority to provide for charity using your money. End all welfare and put charity back in the hands of those that actually care then nonsense like this won't happen.


Kansas where evolution can not be taugth in schools...Where being unemployed means you receive 2.65 an hour. Where Dorthy is still the biggest thing that ever happoned to the state. So why would I or anybody else be shocked with this story. Its the redest of the red states and we all know why.

If they can do drugs,they can work and pay for them

I'm all for mandatory drug testing for those receiving public assistance.Only thing that needs to be added is to include food stamp,public housing and SSI receipients.I'm sure that all of us all know at least a few people that wait on their SSI check each month,live in public housing or on Section 8,receive food stamps and Medicaid.So we provide their housing,their food and their medical care.They have plenty of money to buy drugs,some even sell the drugs Medicaid pays for.If one has nothing to hide,then do the test,no problems.Some even qualify for SSI because they are drug addicts lol.This country gets crazier all the time.

Your comment sounds like you are a Communist

Man who are you to say that someone should be drug tested just because they are poor enough to recieve assistance. I have recieved unemployment and I PAID THAT TAX OUT OF EVERY PAYCHECK I GOT just like I PAY FOR SOCIAL SECURITY. You should not speak of something if you are uninformed. Have you never looked at your pay stubs the government takes 17% of my check and if I get it back I should be able to spend it however I want. This is a blatant violation of every poor persons civil rights and I hope that the ACLU takes the Kansas Legislature and House to task for this, It is basically like saying hey you are poor so you dont get any Civil rights sorry that is just how it is cause you are to poor to fight it.

If I have to take a drug test

If I have to take a drug test to get and keep my job, then people receiving assistance should also have to submit to a drug test. If it is not a violation of my rights, how exactly is it a violation of their rights???

I had to take a drug test to

I had to take a drug test to get and keep my job, you should have to take a drug test to receive state assistance. If it is not a violation of my rights, how is it a violation of yours???

Why should hard working Americans....

Why should hard working Americans pay for those that want to spend their money on alcohol, drugs & cigarettes vs food, housing & medical care? 

KUDOS to mandatory drug tests!

How to pay it?????

Well I found a place that they could test for less than $2.00 and I will doubt they will test 400,000 people. That means they can spend the rest of money somewhere else. If they care go to the web page of and stop been a politician and get their friends to test for $20.00 or $30.00.... Thats how pork barrel works

How about testing AIG and Bank Executives?

How about testing AIG and Bank Executives? They're getting "public assistance" too!

a slippery slope

Now that's a scary concept, despite my prior post. Imagine that concept being extended to anyone who uses ANY public resource being subject to drug testing. While I do agree that people on public assistance should be prohibited from using drugs, with the exception perhaps in some cases of marijuana, I also fear for where this country is going, as it seems drug testing is being expanded to more and more situations. I'm so glad I grew up in the 60's. I'd hate to be in high school today.

that's just too damn bad

I work my ass off as a mental health therapist and many of my clients are on public assistance. If a client is sincerely engaged and actively involved in helping themselves, I will leap tall buildings and stop locomotives for them, and I have no problem with people being supported by my taxes if they truly are unable to work. However, I have no sympathy for those clients that can't get up before noon because they've been up all night partying and then repeatedly miss their appointments with me, and then when they do show, they cry about how hard their life is. Meanwhile, my employer has recently introduced random drug testing. So tell me again how people who live off my taxes should be able to smoke and drink and do whatever other drugs they want and I can't even smoke pot in my own home in my free time? If I have to be subject to drug testing, so should people for whom I work to support.

Can't smoke?

Help me understand this. It sounds like you are, now, complaining about pot smokers because you are to be tested and can not safely smoke it? I really don't think this what you are saying, but that is what it looks like! Just because you have a tyrant for an employer does not mean everyone else has to suffer! One has nothing to do with the other.

And, the person you are talking about, sounds like a leach. He would not be up, even if he was not smoking pot. He could be drinking! But, either way, it is really hard to understand how they can get the money to do any of that if they are on assistance. Granted the system isn't perfect. But, I don't think coming down on everyone will really make a difference in the number of deadbeats, who end up cheating the government out of assistance.

Would that mean that their kids would go without food because they would be denied food stamps, or, that they would be denied housing and be thrown out on the streets with their kids? It just does not sound very compassionate to me, if you are also dealing with families with children! What kind of message will we be sending to the children. If your parents do something wrong, that you have no understanding of, you will be denied food?! Those kids will just see a society full of hateful people! They won't understand. We have to think of the kids and the families, too! They can't help it if they have deadbeat dad, who happens to live at home with them!

And, I would like to know how to get that assistance. I have been out of work for over three years and the only thing I ever got was food stamps. I did not even get unemployment! And even with all of the education I have, I still can't get a job! I would gladly go back to work. I get bored to death sitting around! Maybe if I partied all night, I could sleep more during the day, like your client. I might have to try that!

And, your taxes go to paying the interest to China. Don't kid yourself! The money they are spending now, to bail out the big shots, is going to come out of your kids' taxes! You know, to pay for that 1.6 trillion dollars that they just printed at the mint!

Mandetory drug testing of welfare recipients

Part of the reason there is a cycle of generation after generation being on welfare is that people can become entrenched in the "system"which rewards having illegitimate children and single parent families, rewards the breakdown of the family, and discourages fathers from being responsible and staying in their homes with their families in order to get "benefits".

What is really needed is emotional support and financial incentives to maintain 2 parent families, support for training and education so parents can have meaningful work to support their families. It's a sad fact, while this used to be an urban and primarily a "black" problem, it's now a suburban problem which has spread to all cultures and all races. The middle class keeps getting "poorer" and when trying to raise a family on $10.00 an hour without healthcare benefits or vacations or sick leave, welfare benefits of healthcare, food and housing can look good in comparison.

Add to this the hideous cycle of drug abuse, addiction and the illegal monies that are made peddling illegal drugs and you have a real tragedy. Children learn quickly that food stamps and welfare and illegal activities are something they can rely on, while they can't rely on their drug addiicted parents to take care of them or to empower them to get out of this "system'.

Requiring people who are receipients of taxpayer monies to be "responsible" by being drug-free is just the first step in making their lives better, not worse. With a clear head, they might be able to think about their future, get better education or training to work at higher paying jobs and take better care of their chidren. The biggest users of the child welfare system and children who end up in foster care are those who have parents who are severely addicted to drugs. That is a fact.

Drug Testing

Marijuana is the only drug that can be caught through testing.  The abuse of expensive, destructive, dangerous drugs can be hidden in very short time periods. These people are not marijuana users, and will beat the system and testing 90%+ of the time.  What is the real agenda of this policy?  It will continue the free-ride for the scam artist already abusing the services, and punish the most vulnerable, and needy in the name of 'politics'.  Another hoax foisted on society to deepen the pockets of political cronies, while justifying loosing more of this nations civil humanity.  It will change nothing but appearance's of a failed Govt. in a system that is working for those that are in need.  Start with testing these policy makers of lavish means that drink vintage scotch, take occasional toots, and never pay their parking tickets.   Geeze, $800,000.  That could go far, and be exceedingly beneficial if designated to, say, 'Mental Health Care'.  Depression is a serious issue with no effort to address it.  ... Who gets more welfare than the politician?  When will Judges, Politicians, and Legislators be drug tested, much less held accountable for their indiscretions? Really.      

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