Missouri Welfare Drug Test Bill Heads for Governor's Desk

A Missouri bill that mandates the drug testing of welfare recipients and applicants if case workers have "reasonable suspicion" they are using illegal drugs has passed out of the legislature and is now headed for the governor's desk. It passed the House Tuesday on a vote of 113-34. It had passed the Senate last month.

If you're on welfare in Missouri and the state suspects you use drugs, you will have to provide this. (Image via Wikimedia.org)
The bill, House Bill 73, also known as the "TANF Child Protection and Drug Free Home Act," requires Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) case managers to report to the Children's Division if an applicant or recipient tested positive or refused to take a drug test related to employment or employment training. Caseworkers would also have to report to the division if they have "reasonable suspicion to believe that such individual is engaging in illegal use of a controlled substance."

Failure to take or pass a drug test would make the recipient ineligible for TANF benefits for two years. But people who fail the test could enroll in a drug treatment program, and benefits would continue during treatment. If the person completes treatment and doesn't test positive, the benefits would continue. A second positive drug test would make the person ineligible for benefits for two years, with no provision for a treatment escape clause. Family members of someone declared ineligible because of drug use could continue to receive benefits through a third-party payee.

Foes of the bill argued that the bill was possibly unconstitutional -- although its use of a "reasonable suspicion" standard may make that argument more difficult -- that the program will be costly, and that it's an attack on society's most vulnerable.

The bill "targets low-income individuals, particularly women with children, said Pat Dougherty of the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. "We have women who come to our program and who are successful, who are getting their lives back together, who are trying to get straight, and yet, you've got a penalty there," he told KMOX News Radio last month.

Sen. Maria Chapelle-Nadal (D-St. Louis County) said she was concerned about the costs connected with the drug tests. Legislative analysts in Missouri estimated the program would cost up to $2.3 million.

"In Florida, they did about 9,000 tests and spent more than $3 million, while only 36 people were convicted," Chapelle-Nadal said.

But now, the Show Me State's Republicans get to look tough if not necessarily fiscally smart.

Columbia, MO
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Will they also test for alcohol?

Will they also test for alcohol?

Maybe it's time

Maybe it's time we started testing all of the population to make sure we have better ways to ruin more people's lives. Horribly sick political system. Every politician should be made to feel the degradation of a urine test on a regular basis,then maybe they would better understand the humiliation, that is piled on top the humiliation, that having to seek assistance brings.

 

  There are so many really important problems these useless defenders of Justice should be working on. I fail t

o see how taking money from the least fortunate is going to balance our budget, or make anyones life better. I guess we need more blood money to keep our Empire active in senseless Wars. Peace man, WTF is wrong with these blood thirsty War mongers.

Hey molester

 You have given a great reason why the drug war should be ended and (judging by your post) A LOT more money spent on education.

Test 4 $

I feel this bill is a step in the Right direction. Millions of WORKING people are subject to drug testing everyday in the USA.  So why not test the NON-WORKING whom collect a Government check every month!  For those who are trying to get their lives back together while collecting checks should have no problem passing it right?

They just need to get real

They just need to get real and realize that all drug testing (especially for Cannabis) does is make the companies that produce the test rich and denies employment or other benefits to the people who need them.  The current test used for Cannabis does not detect whether you are under the influence, only if you have used it recently.  Cannabis can stay in your system up to 30 days so you will fail no matter what if you have used it.  I can understand testing if you have an accident at work and someone including you gets injured, otherwise BS.  And then you still need to get a real test for actual impairment. 

 

Once again, stop this wasteful and useless testing.

Insane

Because your rights are violated in the Workplace you feel this is the correct way to treat someone that may need temporary assistance? You are part of the problem. Drug testing is not 100% accurate. How will you feel when a childs parent is handed a false positive and treated as a criminal. There is no arguing with a failed drug test. Urine testing needs to go the way of the Polygraph. Inadmissable. Inaccurate. In the trash. 

I assume you are a Die Hard and until your job is taken away from you on a false positive test you will hold your head below the sand and back this sort of behaviour by the Government and Big Business. I hope its your turn to pee soon. You have a 1 in 3 chance of failing every time you step into the testing lab.

What Rights?

Nothing in the constitution promises a "right" to privacy when entering into a voluntary arrangement.  You voluntarily agree to a drug test as a CRITERIA for your employment.  You're welcome to work elsewhere where such agreements are not required, I hear McDonalds is pretty loose about such things.

In the same way this bill will require you to VOLUNTARILY agree to participate in the urinalysis program.  Welfare is not a right, it's a privilege.  As such they can mandate the conditions of that privilege.  If you wish to participate, you must agree to those conditions.  You have other options, many non for profit organizations offer some sort of assistance in the form of food pantries, utility assistance, etc that do not require drug screening.  Feel free to take advantage of those programs kindness while smoking pot with your money instead of buying food.

What this bill comes to is the taxpayers of Missouri finally taking a stand and saying they will no longer be taken advantage of.  If you can afford pot, you can afford food.

As for the reliability, I'd love to see where you made that 1 in 3 number up from.  I've take hundreds of drug tests in my life (long story) and never failed a single one.  however if it IS a false positive I'm sure that you can, as you can in every situation involving drug tests (even for employment and the military) get a retest if you believe it was a false positive.

MO welfare drug testing

In my opinion "reasonable suspicion" is the same as "why are you on welfare in the 1st place."  I just lost my UI benefits and I'm pregnant...that is why I have no other choice BUT to seek welfare...not many want to hire a woman almost 6 months pregnant.   I CAN certainly pass any drug test I take...anybody need some clean urine???   I got plenty!   LOL!!!!  KCMO

Reasonable suspicion

What's reasonable suspicion ? Being a race other than white ? The law on it's face is unconstitutional .  Being on welfare isn't a crime .

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