Welfare Drug Testing Bill Introduced in Nebraska

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #666)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

Under a bill introduced Monday by state Sen. Charlie Janssen (Fremont-Nonpartisan), Nebraska residents applying for or receiving welfare benefits could be subject to drug testing and the loss of their benefits if they test positive.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]The bill, LB 221, would direct the state Department of Health and Human Services to develop a program to screen welfare applicants or recipients for the presence of controlled substances if the department has "reasonable cause" to think they may be using drugs. "Reasonable cause" is not defined.

If applicants or recipients test positive, they are entitled to an administrative hearing to determine whether the drug test is accurate. If the drug test result is deemed accurate at the hearing, the department "shall declare the applicant or recipient ineligible for such cash benefits for a period of one year from the date of such a determination." The person would also be referred to a drug treatment program.

Bills requiring welfare recipients or recipients of unemployment benefits to be subject to drug testing are a perennial favorite with pseudo-populist politicians, but in recent years have all gone nowhere. One reason is the cost of drug testing thousands or tens of thousands of people; another is because of their questionable constitutionality. The only welfare drug testing bill to pass in recent years was a 1998 bill in Michigan, but that bill was never implemented before being ruled unconstitutional by a US appeals court in 2003.

Janssen rose to national prominence as an advocate of tough local anti-illegal immigration laws in Fremont, Nebraska.

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Hokulani Cheneviere (not verified)

Dang, I just don't think this is a huge problem with welfare recipients.  How about having 6 kids, and choosing Welfare as a career path for starters?  I can tell you in Hawaii being on Welfare with 6 kids is known as hitting the JACKPOT!  Imagine the $$$ for food stamps, county subsidized housing, paid medical, paid car insurance, access to foodbank when food stamps run short.  There is so much fraud going on, I don't know where to begin.  But here's one little nugget-prescription pill abuse.  A much bigger problem than Schedule 1 substances such as God's green herbs.  This is such a big scam, get pills from Doctor, state/Feds pay for it-then turn around and sell these pills for $10 a pop. 

Am I pissed my tax dollars support this?  Damn right.  I have no problem if they grow pakalolo and sell it, that's called sustainable agriculture, but Big Pharma scams by public assistance beneficiaries?  When does it all stop? 

Tue, 01/11/2011 - 12:38am Permalink
Green Thunder (not verified)

This is a great example of the people in our government that are ACTIVELY ENABLING drug dealers, namingly doctors and pharmacists, which is actually where the majority of illegal drug trade occurs. However,  since it's a chemical or pharma company making the deals, nobody cares where it ends up.

And lets go ahead take a look at lil' Charlie boy's sheet...he has absolutely no problem supporting any military concept, he is a Board Member of Fremont Area Medical Center Foundation (WHO DO YOU THINK PAYS HIM TO DANCE AND SING FOR YOU??), as well as Board Member of Fremont National Bank, Scottish Rite, Masonic Lodge, Tangier Shriners, etc. etc. etc.

This story STINKS of special interest. This man is obviously a well paid henchman of Babylon...he will most likely never need Medicare/Welfare, but despite that AND the fact that he really only represents some of the most wealthy people in our fair country, he has absolutely no right to introduce such a ridiculous measure.

This Congress of Cowards owns no one, and controls no one, until you let them. TAKE that power away, because it has been abused for far too long. That and smoke weed every day...why do you really think they're hell bent on denying you God's creations?

Tue, 01/11/2011 - 1:48am Permalink
kickback (not verified)

pride goeth before the fall

Tue, 01/11/2011 - 9:41pm Permalink
willybob (not verified)

Mr. Janssen was born with a silver spoon inserted in his ***.  His legislation attempts so far have been immature and poorly thought-out.  More than one of these attempt (which also failed) has been self serving in fact.  Being a newbie in office, he feels like he needs to make laws, whether they are needed or not.  Typical.

For those who may not know, welfare does not provide money.  It provides a food card for a very limited amount.  Just qualifying for it & completing all the paperwork satisfactorily would be relatively impossible for a 'druggie' to do.  How do you turn a food card into drugs?  You don't (can't).  You use it to help feed your family after paying taxes yourself for years (and years and freaking years). 

Charlie hasn't thought this out at all and we can only hope the rest of the legislators hold him accountable (again), and slap down this fiscally and morally unwise proposal.  Charlie has no regard for people who are undergoing hard times, almost everything he has was handed to him.  Cronyism in Fremont has a face and it is this man.  He is a big fish in a little, little pond.

And no, for the curious, I do not do, and have never done drugs.  I hate drugs.  However my family has had to bend our pride to receive these benefits due to an insufficient job (the only one I have been able to get in this Obama depleted economy).

Wed, 01/12/2011 - 11:39pm Permalink
King Pothead (not verified)

In reply to by willybob (not verified)

You need to wake up to the fact that this economy tanked before Obama ever took office.  It took 28 years of pro-corporate, pro-wealthy, supply-side nonsense to drive this country into the toilet (in other words, conservatism created this mess).  It's not gonna get fixed in two years.  But you hold onto your typical anti-government delusions and keep blaming 'liberals' if it makes you feel better.

Fri, 01/14/2011 - 11:52am Permalink
nevermind (not verified)

In reply to by King Pothead (not verified)

With a name like King Pothead, i can see how you missed out on the fact that Obama's spending levels in ONLY TWO YEARS are already FOUR TIMES the total of Bush's eight years.  Lost a few brain cells there huh King Pothead?  Get your head out of CNN & MSNBC and try to control the thrill that runs up your leg whenever you hear o'communist speak.  Any retard that would name themselves king pothead, hast already lost all credibility in any intelligent conversation.  Put the joint down and switch the channel.

Sat, 01/15/2011 - 2:23pm Permalink
Guera (not verified)

In reply to by willybob (not verified)

actually welfare does provide cash money. so get your facts straight. and the paper work is so easy anyone can do it and now it's easier than ever because you can do it online. 2nd a lot of people sell their food stamp card for cash, the can go $.50 on the dollar to $.75 on the dollar. I think it's a great thing that they're drug testing for welfare. maybe the people who legitimately need it will get it. Your ignorance for this topic obviously shows you have no idea what you are talking about. AND our economy was depleted long before Obama, BUSH should be the man you blame. It's messed up that people always want to blame the next guy but never want to admit to their wrongs. I was without employment for a while as well, but because I decided to continue my education I was able to get a better career than I had before. So get off Obama's coat tail and CONTINUE your education, stop BLAMING him for your joblessness because sweetie you're not the only one. You have to man up and push through the hard times. LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. Members of my family receive such cash benefits every month, along with a lot of food stamps. I reside in an urban city where prostitutes, crack heads, drug dealers, and everyone in between get these benefits, I know people who will trade services like wedding planning, tattoos, rides, ect so drugs are definitely a possibility. so I feel this law is EXCELLENT. Maybe some people will get real jobs, or even attempt to continue their education. Maybe it is you who has poorly planned out your life. Sometimes life requires changes so if you need to go back to college and acquire a degree that is in demand then maybe you should but do not blame others for your situation because your not the only one who faces these problems. It's not anyones problem that YOU'RE so ignorant. but there's probably a million people like you who don't deep think thoughts before posting them for the world to see. Do your research next time before making your self look like a fool. Good luck in anything you attempt regarding the future of yourself and your family.

Thu, 01/20/2011 - 10:12pm Permalink
readysetgo (not verified)

In reply to by Guera (not verified)

Mr. or Mrs. Guera /

I think what 'nevermind' said:  "Put the joint down and switch the channel", would apply to you and your rant.  I read your post and found it amusing that you (evidently) thought yourself a 'deep thinker', before posting your dribble.  My advise to you is, look at yourself.

Mon, 02/28/2011 - 12:07am Permalink
jennifer pettit (not verified)

how do I go about helping get this passed. I think it is a great idea and needs to be implemented into the state of NE bills. It would also save so much money for the state!

Thu, 01/13/2011 - 8:30am Permalink
nevermind (not verified)

In reply to by jennifer pettit (not verified)

It would also save so much money for the state!

Jennifer, you're a mindless drone.  The cost of the testing is only the tip of the iceberg.  Save the state money?  please.

Sat, 01/15/2011 - 2:28pm Permalink
Allan (not verified)

In response to willybob's thoughtless prattle, yes, you can turn a benefits card into cash, drugs, or whatever with a wee bit of help from unscrupulous convenience store proprietors. And some recipients of SSI "disability", ie, welfare, get cash amounts monthly, based on the number of dependents in the household. These are the ones who should be drug tested regularly. I work at a full time job and required to submit to random drug tests. Why shouldn't these recipients of "free" money submit to the same?? What in Hell's name is unconstitutional about that?? It's my tax dollars that pay these checks ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Thu, 01/13/2011 - 5:27pm Permalink
walkforlife (not verified)

In reply to by Allan (not verified)

I could not find "unconstitutional" in willybob's statement.  Guess Allen needs some help with reading comprehension, and maybe a little with anger control.  What caught my eye in his writing was "You use it to help feed your family after paying taxes yourself for years (and years and freaking years)." 

This tells me that obviously this person has paid into the system for years, so effectively if the person is underemployed right now, he is utilizing the system as it was intended (and has the same rights as a taxpayer, that allen seems to think only he has earned).

Allen and some others on here seem to know an awful lot about how to abuse the system, going so far as to say they "are aware that welfare people use drugs recreationally".  My question is, what does this say about them?  Where have they been and who do they hang around with that they have learned this?  And when they saw this abuse or learned of it or were asked to participate in it, why did they not alert someone?  Maybe they were on drugs?  Maybe they are drunks?  Or maybe they just have no integrity.  Maybe they should be drug tested or fined and jailed for their legitimate offense of witnessing abuse of the system and choosing not to do anything about it?

Unemployment is at an all time high in our country.  Anyone who thinks that a person deserves to be lumped in with drug abusers, just because they may be unemployed or underemployed and have no other choice but to take temporary assistance, is a fool.

Additionally, (Allen), Social Security paid for legitimate disability is not "welfare", it is still Social Security and America is probably better off for the fact that you do not make the rules.

Let's all get off our high horse and bring the issue back to reality instead of uneducated accusations.

Thu, 01/13/2011 - 11:58pm Permalink
Ali (not verified)

In reply to by Allan (not verified)

I'd have to agree with you, Allen. I am writing a speech on this topic for my public speaking class and you basically summed it up. I don't work a full time job (since I'm still in high school) buuut, it does bother me that money is taken out of my paycheck monthly to pay for other people's habits. I think that it's totally fair to test, plus to get something you've gotta give a little, right? what's a test (THAT THEY DON'T EVEN HAVE TO PAY FOR!!!) in exchange for the average $1500 a month for a family of five?? Drug tests are cheap in comparison to that, in addition to the fact that on average, recipients tend to stay on the program for at least a year or two.... sometimes as long as they can play the system. Yes, I do get that it there's also kids involved and stuff however, if the money's going to drugs and alcohol, it doesn't help them much anyway. Rather, I think, with the money being SAVED in the long run, people who test positive can receive help and get put on the right path.

Thu, 04/07/2011 - 1:56pm Permalink
ladiesmanfish (not verified)

To all who think this is a bad idea must be doing drugs while on welfare!  Protect my tax dollars!!  Have you ever seen the gas stations that accept EBT?  Does a gas station sound like a place that has appropriate items for people on welfare to be buying their family?  How bout the commercial of all the starving kids with 1 holding a sign saying "I got my dinner from a gas station!" I've known many welfare recipients to partake in recreational use of drugs. Most of these folks like to go to the grocery store with their friends, pay for their friends groceries with EBT and have their friends give them cash!  It even happened to me once!  Growing up I hung out in some low income areas of town.  Usually when I was buying drugs from various welfare recipients.  I saw lots of people on welfare.  The thing that got me was that almost all of them had a nice large TV, cable lots of food and drinks to go around and cigarettes.  Meanwhile my mom was working her ass off for us to have cable, regular size TV and put food on the table.  We would have qualified for welfare but she decided to WORK and actually provide for her family!!  If the recipients have nothing to hide then there should be no worry with being tested for drugs.  Hell its not like its coming out of the recipients pocket!  Oh and drug testing is expensive.  But not as expensive as supporting a bunch of lazy ass mofos!   If you work and pay all your own bills then do all the drugs you want!  You have earned it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thu, 01/13/2011 - 7:15pm Permalink
King Pothead (not verified)

In reply to by ladiesmanfish (not verified)

What an intelligent response!  NOT!!!  You must have memorized this verbatim from one of those mindless right-wing radio talk shows.  I know I've heard it somewhere else before.  About a thousand times! 

I'm not an advocate of welfare fraud, but it is a reality of life.  But I find it hard to believe it is as widespread as people like you would have us believe.  Sure, there are people who abuse the system.  But most people receiving help are legitimately in need.  Most of these people actually want to work and be productive members of society so they can have all the nice things the rest of us do.  And most of them DO NOT abuse drugs.  What you are proposing would only increase government spending while creating other societal problems. 

Suppose we start drug testing welfare recipients and cutting off those who test positive?  What are these people going to do when they have no government assistance and no job (with no prospect for one in this awful economy)?  They are going to turn to crime to survive.  What is the pot smoking welfare recipient going to do when he can't smoke anymore because of drug tests?  Turn to alcohol (which is clearly worse) or maybe to some of the new synthetic drugs (which are probably more harmful than the naturally growing plant) that won't show up on a drug test.  The cure is worse than the disease! 

I know you been programmed to villify welfare and its recipients through right-wing demagoguery.  But these people are far from being this nation's biggest problem.  Sure, drug abuse exists amongst their ranks.  But wouldn't a better solution be to offer treatment for drug abuse and create jobs where they can become self-sustaining, productive members of society?  Your solution is mean-spirited and downright immoral.

By the way, I have a good job, house, nice car and almost everything I need, which makes your beginning argument total garbage.

Fri, 01/14/2011 - 12:42pm Permalink
King Pothead (not verified)

In reply to by King Pothead (not verified)

To all those who say "I have to take a drug test to get my paycheck, why shouldn't someone sitting on their ass doing nothing all day while getting government handouts have to do the same?"  Ever hear the expression two wrongs don't make a right?

Fri, 01/14/2011 - 12:49pm Permalink
onehotnurse (not verified)

AMEN!!!! I couldn't have said it better myself.

I am a registered nurse who was injured on the job and they fired me. I have had three surgeries on my shoulder ,and it put me out. I went from making $70,000/ year to last year I cleared almost $12,000. I AM ON PUBLIC ASSISTANCE!! Does that make me a horrible person or less important? I am very well educated but physically I am broken. I am currently working on my bachelors in nursing and let me tell you how close minded and judgmental some nurse are. I can't believe how they feel about people on assistance. They have even talked about going to our legislature and proposing a bill that states people on public assistance can't smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol. WTF, are you kidding me!!!! We may need to drink to put up with these yuppie f****rs. These are the same nurses that care for you at a big hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska!! I am ashamed to have colleagues like these and feel they do the nursing profession an injustice.

Unless you have been in the position to need assistance, shut your mouth! These south side yuppies who have had everything handed to them on a silver platter need a reality check!!

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 12:05pm Permalink
Robert Walker (not verified)

It is rather ironic that I am required to take a drug test prior to being hired as a blackjack dealer or a janitor.  The company pays for the testing.  How much does the test cost versus the cost of providing welfare for one year?  The cost is negligible.  The drug test requirement might just cause fewer applicants for welfare also.  If one knows that he/she cannot pass the drug test, they won't apply.  The test should be required annually.

A drug test is required in the event of a very minor accident at most work places.  I really don't see the problem with drug testing welfare recipients.  If I want a job, I must go through the process.  If someone wants my tax dollars, they should be required to go through the process. 

Peace and Love,

Robert Walker

Thu, 01/13/2011 - 8:42pm Permalink
Moonrider (not verified)

ALL workplace drug testing should be restricted to impairment testing only.  Random UA drug-screening should be declared illegal, as it is completely unconstitutional (violation of 4th Amendment, at least, and maybe others, too, 5th perhaps?). 

Fri, 01/14/2011 - 12:56am Permalink
bosco12356 (not verified)

Sen. Charlie Janssen has any campaign cash ties to any labs or people who would directly profit from a welfare drug testing program those tests are not cheap. And my guess is he knows someone directly involve with the sale of or manufacture of the tools of the drug (personal intrusion) Trade! So instead of helping people and feeding people this guy wants to fill labs coffers while taking money from people that may need it. He is everything that is wrong with America!

Fri, 01/14/2011 - 1:41pm Permalink
Kracker (not verified)

I work at a walmart store and the stuff you see go on with the people that have food stamps is sometimes crazy. You have women and younger girls buying crap not healthy food or even descent food for the kids which is who that money is for. They are buying pop chips and anything fast to eat. I had one lady tell me welfare should be buying her toilet paper too. Well as a single mom of 4 i would of loved to tell her where to go. Most of the people i see on welfare drive nice cars have nice clothes i bust my ass at a 40 hour a week job where mind you i had to take adrug test for just so they can sit on there ass and collect welfare. How is it fair that i leave my kids everyday to go to work so they can stay home.

Wed, 01/25/2012 - 11:19am Permalink
Kazz (not verified)

I have four children and a husband that has type 2 diabetes (he doesn't have health insurance and is only able to work minimal hours). We currently are receiving SNAP (foodstamps) and health care for our children ONLY! I am currently employed part time AND I am a college student working on my MBA. I have been attending college for 5 1/2 years now BECAUSE I want to provide a better life for my children. Moreover, I want to get out from underneath the state's thumb. I do not receive an ADC check from the state nor will I ever ask for help in that way. Do I feel that the state should impose this bill? Maybe. Do I think it will be cost effective? No, I do not. Professional drug users will always find ways to "beat" the tests unless they are surprise tests. I think that this bill would single out previous and/or current users to be picked on by the state. I think that NHHS would test individuals that once had a drug problem or history of drug problems. The article states "reasonable cause" which to me says anyone that they know of, or has previously use. If this bill is going to pass the testing cannot be up to the state personnel. It needs to be a universal mandate that all are included in or just the recipients that are receiving an actual check from the state; otherwise this is just an unfair system. People can become addicted at any given time, and can clean up their lives at any time. I have been clean for 7 years, but I feel that I would be singled out do to my previous history with drug abuse. Do NOT get me wrong, I have NOTHING to hide! I would be willing to take their tests at any time. I'm just saying that in order for this bill to work it needs to include all recipients in the system. NOT just the ones that NHHS want to single out the day, week, or month! I'm not against this bill, but I'm just not sure if I am for this bill. I think that this subject should be explored further and numbers should be ran to see if it would be a cost effective measure. I just think that more research should go into the bill before it is even passed.

That's my take on this bill. I am for finding ways to minimize the abuse that is taking place to Nebraska's system. However, the state already cut a ton of costs out of their welfare budget to save money. I'm just not seeing how adding this into the state budget is going to be cost effective, but hey, if it works more power to them!

Mon, 02/06/2012 - 4:53pm Permalink

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