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Kansas Governor Signs Public Benefits Drug Test Bill

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #780)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) Tuesday signed into law a bill that requires applicants for welfare and unemployment benefits to undergo drug testing if there is "reasonable suspicion" they are using drugs. People who test positive would have to undergo drug treatment and job training at state expense before becoming eligible for cash assistance.

According to Senate Bill 149, "reasonable suspicion" may be derived from "applicant's or recipient's demeanor, missed appointments and arrest or other police records, previous employment or application for employment in an occupation or industry that regularly conducts drug screening, termination from previous employment due to use of a controlled substance or controlled substance analog or prior drug screening records of the applicant or recipient indicating use of a controlled substance or controlled substance analog."

It is not clear why having worked or applied for a job in "an occupation or industry that regularly conducts drug screening" creates "reasonable suspicion" that someone is using drugs, but that's what the law says.

Gov. Brownback signed the bill during a Tuesday afternoon, saying the state had an obligation to its residents to help them break their addictions and improve their lives through treatment and job training.

"Drug addiction is a scourge in Kansas. This is a horrific thing that hits so many people," Brownback said. "What this effort is about is an attempt to get ahead of it, and instead of ignoring the problem to start treating the problem."

Critics of the bill, including the American Civil Liberties Union state chapter, argued that public benefits recipients don't use drugs any more frequently than anyone else, that such laws perpetuate existing stigmas, and that they unnecessarily invade privacy. But those arguments did not sway the legislature or the governor.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Drew B (not verified)

These are the monsters who know their time of lording unrighteous authority over others is coming to an end. Their evil lies will be exposed so they are doing their best to be blowhards of fear and propaganda.

I'm surprised they left off "and those who post to 'pro-drug' websites." And "those who do not swear fealty to Drug Prohibition, or accuse at least one neighbor per month."

Unfortunately there are various preachers in the south who spread heinous lies about drugs in general. I hope to begin a series before too long under the section False Prophets of Prohibition, where I expose them and what they say. Feel free to send me leads if you have verifiable quotes (I can look up via web or podcast) you want debunked and exposed.

Those preachers are the blind who lead the blind politicians into more and more waste, perpetrating violence, and finally falling in the pit.

Thu, 04/18/2013 - 1:59am Permalink
Alan (not verified)

If Kansas wants to make sure those on public assistance aren't part of the scourge of drug abuse in Kansas, isn't it even more important that Kansas drug test people buying or carrying firearms? I'm sure Gov. Brownback would agree.
Thu, 04/18/2013 - 1:15pm Permalink
Anonymous1280 (not verified)

Shouldn't the headline have been, and now a word from the dark ages.  That is how we Kansan's feel when we listen to Brownback spout his right-wing rhetoric.  When this bill was argued, a particularly brave legislator who knew she could not stop the bill, added an amendment that would also require the same testing be done on any representative or senator for the same reasonable suspicion.  I wonder where that proposal went?  

Thu, 04/18/2013 - 1:34pm Permalink

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