Claim: Various states have passed laws requiring that public assistance recipients pass a drug testing program.
I've regularly seen this post today on Facebook:
"Kentucky just passed a great law. To be eligible for food stamps, medicaid, or cash assistance for your children or yourself, you have to pass a DRUG test. Now every other state should do the same! If you agree
Is there any truth to this?
[Collected via e-mail, August 2011]
One down......49 to go!!!
Florida is the first state as of June 1, 2011- Hooray for Florida!
Florida is the first state that is now going to require drug testing for welfare! Some people are crying this is unconstitutional. How is this unconstitutional? It's completely legal that every other working person had to pass a drug test in order to have a
Pass it on if you agree!!!!
Origins: On 7 January 2011, HB208 was introduced to the Kentucky state legislature's House of Representatives. That bill sought to modify existing state rules to require that adults who receive public assistance participate in (and pass) a substance abuse screening program once a year:
(b) An adult person shall be ineligible for public assistance if:
1. The person does not participate in the substance abuse screening program established under this section; or
2. The person tests positive in a substance abuse test administered by the program for the presence of:
a. A schedule I controlled substance; or
b. A schedule II - V controlled substance not prescribed for that person.
(c) The substance abuse testing component of the screening program shall be designed so as to require that testing occurs as an initial condition precedent prior to the receipt of public assistance and once for each subsequent year the adult person receives public assistance, with the person being randomly assigned a month within that year to submit to testing upon receipt of reasonable notice from the cabinet.
(d) The results of testing conducted under this subsection shall not be admissible in any criminal proceeding without the consent of the person tested.
According to the [Louisville] Courier-Journal:
If they refuse treatment, they would lose the assistance, he said.
Napier said the goal "is to get people off drugs."
"I'm not a hard-hearted guy," he said. "I believe there is a need for public assistance for those who need it, but I understand some are using these funds to buy drugs."
"It's the right thing for taxpayers," Scott said after signing the measure. "It's the right thing for citizens of this state that need public assistance. We don't want to waste tax dollars. And also, we want to give people an incentive to not use drugs."
Under the law, which takes effect on
Judge Mary Scriven issued a temporary injunction against the state, writing in a
In her order, Scriven issued a scathing assessment of the state's argument in favor of the drug tests, saying the state failed to prove "special needs" as to why it should conduct such searches without probable cause or reasonable suspicion, as the law requires.
"If invoking an interest in preventing public funds from potentially being used to fund drug use were the only requirement to establish a special need," Scriven wrote, "the state could impose drug testing as an eligibility requirement for every beneficiary of every government program. Such blanket intrusions cannot be countenanced under the Fourth Amendment."
The testing fee of $25 to $45 was to be repaid by the state if the test came back negative, but applicants who tested positive would have been barred from receiving benefits for a year.
During the time the law was in effect, about 2.6 percent of recipients tested positive for illegal drugs, mostly for marijuana, according to the court documents.
The failure rate was well below that of the general population. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found in a 2009 survey that about ,
Generally, the courts have allowed suspicionless drug testing only when public safety is at risk, such as for armed officers or railroad workers who operate heavy equipment.
Officials will administer drug tests when they have reasonable cause to believe an applicant or recipient is using illegal drugs.
Under the bill, welfare recipients would lose their benefits for three years if they fail a urine test that screens for narcotics. But the measure would allow them to receive benefits if they complete a drug treatment program and do not test positive again.
In May 2012, Oklahoma passed a law requiring welfare applicants to be screened for possible drug use and drug tested upon suspicion they are using. They would be denied benefits if they test positive.
Last updated: 2 January 2014
Catalanello, Rebecca. "Florida's Welfare Drug Testing Halted by Federal Judge." St. Petersburg Times. 25 October 2011. Hightower, Kyle. "Federal Judge Reserves Ruling on Drug Test Law." The Miami Herald. 26 September 2011. Johnson, Stephan. "People on Assistance Could Face Drug Test." WDRB-TV [Louisville. KY]. 17 January 2011. Steitzer, Stephenie. "Bill Calls for Drug Testing for Those Getting Aid." The [Louisville] Courier-Journal. 18 January 2011. Sutton, Jane. "Judge Strikes Down Florida Law Mandating Drug Tests for Welfare." Reuters. 31 December 2013. Whittenburg, Catherine. "Welfare Drug-Testing Yields 2% Positive Results." The Tampa Tribune. 24 August 2011. Associated Press. "Missouri House Passes Welfare Drug-Testing Legislation." [St. Joseph] News-Press. 10 May 2011. Associated Press. "Nixon OKs Drug Tests for Missouri Welfare Recipients." Southeast Missourian. 12 July 2011. CNN.com. "Florida Governor Signs Welfare Drug-Screen Measure." 1 June 2011. The Kansas City Star. "Missouri House to Consider Welfare Drug Testing Bill." 26 January 2011.