Missouri To Drug Test Welfare Recipients

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March-Thu-1817-2012

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The law in Missouri is currently in effect, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) signed the legislation which can ban a drug users benefits for 3 years if they test positive. The legislation was changed however to give druggies a way to still get their hands on tax payer money while sponging up more of it; enter a rehab program. If a Welfare recipient tests positive then they can accept treatment and keep their benefits or they can refuse and lose benefits for three years. How many do you think will refuse?

While Missouri got their toothless legislation passed it’s better than most states are doing with similar bills. Several states have tried to implement similar policies for their Welfare departments only to see them die in the state legislature or the courts.

This bill in Colorado got the boot because politicians felt that it would make the poor feel like criminals.

House Bill 1046, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, would have required anyone applying for benefits under the federally funded Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program, or TANF, to first pay the cost of taking a drug test. Those who passed the drug test would have been reimbursed by the state and could get TANF benefits. Those who failed, though, would have been denied reimbursement and any benefits and would not have been able to reapply for TANF again for a year.

The ACLU is leading the charge against these bills in most states where they are being considered, 23 in all, but common sense seems to finally be gripping the nation.

•At least 10 states are considering bills that would require photo identification for food stamps or electronic benefit cards.

•At least two states — Ohio and Tennessee — are considering restricting or eliminating eligibility for those convicted of drug felonies.

•At least two states —North Carolina and New Jersey— are considering requiring people to perform community service to receive government help.

The bottom line is that if you would like public assistance in the form of receiving money or benefits then you shouldn’t be spending our money on drugs or cashing the check and kicking it at home without trying to get off the benefits. If an insurance company can spy on you to ensure that you’re actually entitled to workmans comp then why can’t the state verify if you’re not a drug addict?

Source: Raw Story and the USA Today.

 


A state has finally come up with an excellent idea although it seems like it should have been passed long ago. Missouri’s House has passed a bill that is now being debated within the state senate. If passed it would allow the state to drug test recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families if they’re suspected of using illegal drugs. This comes after a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study found that nearly 10% of people receiving government assistance were using illegal drugs compared to 6% of those who receive no assistance. Those who oppose this bill say that drug testing is “too expensive” for a state suffering from budget problems. Incidentally the average cost of drug testing in this country is only $42 according to the ACLU and the average government assistance check is $1,075 a month – even as a product of our own public education system I damn well know spending $42 to save over a thousand dollars a month is great math!

How was this not passed with the creation of Welfare? Considering the recipients of the money are receiving tax payer money why shouldn’t we ensure they’re not using it to support their habit? While drug testing is expensive I think the state would still come out ahead. If they catch a person using drugs while on Welfare and they cancel their checks then the state won’t have to pay out months of benefits. Many of you reading this are forced to submit to a random drug test at work and those companies don’t seem to be sweating the costs. Even state employees are subject to random drug tests so why not test those who’re receiving state funds?

The Missouri bill was amended so that it does not discriminate against race or ethnicity although if it works like the “random” airport screenings then I’m sure I can guess who will be tested. Even considering that potential problem it seems like a brilliant idea. Many people do not want their hard earned money being given to crack addicts so they can purchase drugs. I know I don’t. Currently it seems that most states just write checks without seeing who the money is going to and they only schedule an appointment to see if you’re alive so frankly it’s about damn time someone reels it back in.

Currently only six states,

  1. Indiana
  2. Massachusetts
  3. Minnesota
  4. New Jersey
  5. Wisconsin
  6. Virginia

require drug testing for welfare recipients however it only applies to convicted felons and recent parolees. I think that all states should have similar laws in place so that they can ensure money isn’t being wasted in several places. If you think about it the states without this bill are potentially funding druggies and then they’re having to pay the police force to fight the “war on drugs.” Its a cycle that cannot be broken until laws like the one in Missouri are passed in every state. In a time where every state is broke or sinking fast it should be the states number one priority to ensure money is not being wasted on people who do not deserve it.

Source: GOOD

Author: James

I am the owner and main author of My Bloggity Blog. I started this blog on a whim and it grew faster than I ever imagined. I seriously enjoy debating politics and foreign policy as I'm sure you've noticed but I also enjoy a wide array of other things that I try to include here.

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  • jushoua

    been awhile since someones posted here. thought i'd throw my 2 cents in anyway. so am i to believe that taking food out of childrens mouths because a parent may take a puff off a joint once in awhile is the right thing to do. really with all the thing being done with your taxes (such as iraq afghanistan & now libya) your best ideas to eliminate waste is this. I'm not a user but i can see how things could get so stressful in our society it could drive someone to try and take the edge off. sorry for any grammatical i'm mobile lol

    • Owner

      Well the thought is that if the welfare recipient is on drugs and using that check for drugs then kids are going hungry anyway. We also are not talking about a pleasure puff or two since those leave urine relatively fast but we are talking about addicted users. However smoking a joint on the day of your appointment is not recommended. I also am forced to pay taxes and it's nice to get some control over where my money goes. The taxpayers didn't get a choice of funding the Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya wars and if we did I'm sure the funding would be far less. If someone needs to take off the edge then go to the bar while that's still legal.

      Thank you for your comment!

  • Me

    I like how you didn't address my actual point – that cutting off welfare funds won't fix the problem. Society always pays for addicts one way or another. We all pay for it. Too many idiots like you like to pretend bills such as the pending Missouri one will actually fix something.

    I'm through with you, now that you also decided to pretend you've seen addiction up close and personal.

    • Owner

      So you know me? You know what I have seen? Also you abandoned your point long ago.

      Yes idiots like me see the sense in not funding addicts directly through the welfare system by a simple policy of testing. That won't save states any money at all…

      See ya

  • Jason

    If I knowingly shove my arm into a wood chipper and it gets chopped up am I sick?

    Should taxpayers have to pay to get me well again?

    If I consume eight Big Macs daily and end up morbidly obese am I now sick as well?

    People with ebola, pneumonia and even mental disorders are sick but not someone who chooses to stick a needle in their arm. That is not an illness – it is a consequence and nothing more.

    • Me

      You don't understand addiction. Next.

      • Owner

        So how long have you done drugs?

        • Me

          Are you capable of forming one thought without committing a logical fallacy? Just one?

          I neither do drugs nor receive any form of government assistance, nor have I ever. I merely understand that addiction is a disease.

          • Owner

            Have you read my blog? Next

            I've seen addiction up close and personal and have dealt with people like yourself who feel it's a disease. People don't choose to keep giving themselves cancer but druggies continue to kill themselves. It's not a disease or sickness it's just weak minded people who like the feeling they get while high.

            People like you are not compassionate but you're just an enabler justifying illegal activity.

  • Me

    First, your numbers are misleading and I want to clear them up. According to this (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2010/feb/12/drug_testing_missouri_bill_test) article, which is both more recent and more thorough than the article you sourced, the average family receives $292 per month under the Missouri program in question. This is far less than the $1,075 you quoted as the "average government assistance check" – this may be true, but the program in question isn't the average program by any means.

    Now that that's out of the way, I think this is an interesting issue. You raise good points. You can look to other states like Michigan to see precedents and the many challenges the Missouri bill is going to face. Michigan's random testing was deemed unconstitutional based on the Fourth Amendment. To avoid this problem, Arizona asks welfare applicants several drug-related questions. Anyone who answers "yes" is sent for drug testing. Anyone who says no, or lies, is not tested and does not risk losing their benefits.

    The intention of this bill is clear enough: To not waste taxpayer money. What it may actually do is slightly different. Illegal drug use is a crime, but addiction is not a crime but a disease. This Missouri bill may actually leave some very sick people high and dry.

    I don't disagree with the idea of ensuring welfare money isn't wasted. But how do I make sure my tax dollars aren't spent on purchases of booze, lottery tickets, cigarettes, and drugs? Is it even possible?

    • Owner

      "Incidentally the average cost of drug testing in this country is only $42 according to the ACLU and the average government assistance check is $1,075 a month." I don't find that misleading as it is a fact and I do specifically state that the average is for the country and not Missouri. You're quoting stopthedrugwar.org which by default is a biased source. In the article you sourced the figure below is mentioned.

      "A legislative staff fiscal analysis of the Senate bill put the annual cost to the state at more than $5 million next year, and more than $6 million in coming years. Those figures represent the cost of drug testing an estimated 90,000 TANF recipients or new applicants each year and the cost of providing additional drug treatment services to deal with those who test positive." However that is a gross over calculation considering Missouri will only be testing recipients who are reportedly using illegal substances.

      How many drug users do you know that will answer yes to drug related question that is being asked by a state employee? That's the problem with Arizona's law.

      I strongly disagree with your point labeling addiction as a disease. They still use drugs which is a crime and that makes them criminals who certainly do not deserve Welfare. Even if it were so Welfare could not cover the cost of rehabilitation which often fails. Those "sick" people chose to do drugs and ruin their lives and in doing so they should not be allowed to receive benefits from the state or federal government to further their habit.

      Booze is legal, lottery tickets are legal and cigarettes are legal although Welfare checks and cards cannot be used to purchase such items. It says so on the checks and cards that states hand out. I have seen several stores deny recipients due to this measure.

      • Me

        If you clearly stated that the monthly benefit in question is a mere 27% of the national average you cite, your figure would not be misleading. You don't, and it is.

        You are correct that the figure I used is from a biased source. Are you saying they're inaccurate? If you want the figures regarding the Missouri program from an unbiased source, refer to this http://www.dss.mo.gov/mis/apprpsum/famspprt09/fsd…. They're the same as the "biased" source, so please: what was your point?

        I do firmly stand by my statement that drug addicts are sick. (If you disagree I invite you to try living in the real world. Meet some.) By definition illegal drug addicts break the law; obviously, yes, they are also criminal. Criminals are placed into prison to punish and hopefully rehabilitate them to prevent future criminal acts. When the root of the problem is /pathological/, prison won't do shit.

        A lot of people like you think cutting drug users off from welfare would solve problems and save money. I wish we all lived in a world like that. In truth we'll be shifting the cost of caring for these individuals to taxpayers via other government-funded programs. Maybe prison, maybe by other means. The bill won't save us money; we'll just have to pay for them another way.

  • Neenah

    Why this isn't mandated in all 50 States is beyond me. I'm sure CA would benefit from saving millions of dollars if this was law.

    • Owner

      Its the United States lol and common sense avoids law makers like the plague. Hopefully Missouri keeps the ball rolling!

  • Cora

    I was so happy to read about this possible new Missouri law. It really made my week (though that isn't hard). I really don't think crime will increase much but if it does then perhaps Missouri will be the first state to realize the "War on Drugs" has already been lost.

    • Owner

      Haha! Well I'm glad to have made your day.

      But if we end the "War on Drugs" cops will actually have to do real work like solving murders and such. The police unions will demand raises for such hard work :P

  • Jason

    $42 to test someone to potentially save over $12,000 a year – where do I sign? I'll even happily pay for the first five drug tests!

  • Kait

    mmm, i agree that tax payers should not be footing the bill for drug use. I dont think drug use or not should be the rule of thumb here for acceptable tax investment good feelings tho. Maybe wellfair recipients should be tested on how often their children are present at school, (school fees inhibit drug use somewhat) those with children, and the singular without depents could be tested, but we both know that alcohol will just replace all other substance abuse for the average joe. Hmmmm. Maybe the tax from alcohol abuse can fund the drug testing. 8/

  • Kait

    hmmm, this is a hard one with many avenues of conjecture. I suppose it comes down to this; the drug is the controlling factor. People will access it by any means, if money is not available then crime and violence may enter a persons mind where it had not been before. You might find the little old pot smoking lady next door holding up the convenience store with the magic marker she was just huffing to be able to pay rent and buy a bud. Catch 22.

    • Owner

      Brilliant observation! People will always do what they want in the end or what the feel they need however we shouldn't be paying for it. I don't care that people do drugs but I think it's principal that the government does not provide you the funds to do so. Crime and violence are already a package deal with the exception of pot smokers and I'd hate to see some old lady jammed up over it. Although the old lady can still use her Social Security checks for her dope purchases