Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Benton nails it: drug test welfare recipients.

readers know of my position on welfare: as a product of the welfare state and formerly homeless myself, I have an affinity... but no particular sympathy, for those choosing to stay on welfare at our expense.

Recapping: if you're on welfare, vacuuming up our money in return for nothing, here's the thing:

If you smoke, drink, use any recreational drugs of any kind, have cable TV, internet, a cell phone... then you don't need to be on welfare or any other government assistance... because if you have money for that... then you don't need my money for anything.

Sen. Don Benton (R-17) has hit the nail on the head with his efforts here.  And I, for one, appreciate it.  it's a start that had to start somewhere, and it might as well be now.
Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, shakes hands on the opening day of the 2013 legislative session.
Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, shakes hands on the opening day of the 2013 legislative session.

OLYMPIA — A measure modeled on a new Utah law would add a potential drug testing requirement to those seeking family welfare benefits in Washington state, but would allow them to continue receiving money while seeking treatment as long as they stay drug-free.
The bill will have its first public hearing before a Senate committee Thursday. It would require applicants whom case workers have determined have a drug problem to undergo a drug test and participate in a treatment program to receive the monthly cash grant that is part of the state's temporary assistance for needy families program, known as TANF.
"I think taxpayers want to make darn sure the money is going for groceries for the kids and not for dope," said Sen. Don Benton, a Republican from Vancouver who is sponsoring the Senate bill. "I think the taxpayers have a right to confirm that."
Though the numbers vary year by year, as of June, between 121,000 and 134,000 people received an average monthly payment of $373 through TANF. To be eligible, applicants must either have a child or be pregnant and meet certain income requirements. For example, a family of three that has earnings of less than $955 each month would be eligible for cash assistance from TANF.
Washington is among nearly two dozen states that have introduced bills this year to require some form of drug testing for public assistance recipients, according to Rochelle Finzel with the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Seven states have such laws on the books, but some that have passed blanket welfare drug-testing laws have faced legal challenges amid constitutional concerns.
Florida passed a welfare drug-testing program in 2011, but it's on hold after a challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is reviewing the case. The implementation of a law passed by Georgia last year also is on hold, with officials there saying they're awaiting the outcome of the Florida case.
In 1999, a drug-testing program in Michigan was halted after five weeks and eventually ended with an appeals court ruling it was unconstitutional.
Additional states require individuals with felony drug convictions to comply with drug-testing requirements to be eligible for assistance. Others, including Washington state, have an interview screening process that does not include a drug test, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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