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Drug testing measure heads to Oklahoma governor

The bill would require that welfare payments be withheld from anyone who, after being screened, tests positive for illegally using drugs.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: May 11, 2012

A measure that would withhold Temporary Assistance to Needy Families from people who test positive for drugs is headed to the governor.

The state House voted Thursday 86-6 to pass House Bill 2388.

The original version of the bill would have required drug testing for everyone receiving the assistance, but the Senate changed it so that testing is not required of all applicants. The Senate last month passed the bill 46-2.

HB 2388 would withhold federal assistance from anyone who tests positive for illegal drug use.

Sen. David Holt, Senate author of the bill, said DHS now allows those who test positive to continue to receive assistance while getting drug treatment. HB 2388 would withhold assistance but still provide treatment.

“We do have drug testing in the bill, but only where there is suspicion when the person is on illegal drugs,” said Holt, R-Oklahoma City. “It sends a message that this is a temporary program paid for by people's neighbors so that they can get back on their feet. It's just a common-sense idea that if you are using illegal drugs, this probably isn't the best time to be using TANF. It's probably a waste of our money and your time and you need to come back when you're clean.”

HB 2388 requires DHS to screen adults for drug use who apply for the program. DHS would be responsible for the cost of drug testing.

Applicants who undergo a substance abuse treatment program can reapply for benefits six months after the date of the denial. Child-only cases and underage parents would be exempt from the drug screening.

The legislation also provides that an alternative person can be named to receive benefits when a parent has been found to be ineligible.


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