Archive for Friday, February 26, 2010

Facing criticism over proposal to drug test Kansans receiving state assistance, legislator proposes testing lawmakers

February 26, 2010, 9:32 a.m. Updated February 27, 2010, 12:00 a.m.

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— Topeka (ap) — A House Republican responded to criticism of her bill requiring random drug testing of Kansans on state assistance by proposing an amendment mandating the 165 members of the Legislature undergo the same type of screening.

Rep. Kasha Kelley, R-Arkansas City, said Thursday the inclusion of legislators was a direct response to allegations her House-passed bill was a mean-spirited attempt to punish impoverished people.

“I have requested an amendment to add legislators to the list of elected officials required to pass drug screening,” Kelley told members of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee.

The committee took no action on House Bill 2275, which was overwhelmingly passed during the 2009 legislative session by the House. The new requirement for legislators wasn’t in the bill when adopted by the House.

Skepticism was the dominant feature of immediate reaction to Kelley’s proposed amendment. “She’s serious?” said Sen. Roger Reitz, R-Manhattan. “For heaven’s sake.”

“You might think some legislators are on drugs given some of the things that happen in the Capitol,” said House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence. “However, I don’t think we need to resort to mandatory drug testing.”

Sen. Jim Barnett, Emporia Republican and chairman of the Senate health committee, said the state could improve monitoring of recipients in the state cash assistance programs without involving the 125 representatives and 40 senators in drug screening.

Under Kelley’s original bill, the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services would establish a testing program for recipients of Temporary Assistance to Families and General Assistance. About one-third of people in these programs, or 8,400 individuals, would be screened annually under the program Kelley outlined. The agency said the initiative would cost an estimated $1 million annually.

Somewhere between 8 percent and 12 percent would test positive for marijuana, cocaine, crack or some other illegal drug, officials said.

Those found to have ingested illegal substances the first and second time would be directed to treatment programs. Failure to complete treatment would result in loss of cash assistance benefits. A third positive test would trigger automatic termination from the state aid programs.

During testimony, the secretary of SRS denounced the three-strikes-and-you’re-out bill. “I would call myself an opponent,” said SRS Secretary Don Jordan. “We believe we have an effective program in place.”

Jordan said SRS had a well-developed system for determining which aid recipients were likely to be at high risk for involvement in illegal drugs. It doesn’t involve laboratory evaluation of urine samples, he said, but does compel people in need of care to obtain treatment services.

“Implementing a formalized drug testing program will entail additional monitoring, tracking, sampling, recipient notification, and case coordination on the part of SRS staff and our treatment network,” Jordan said.

Kelley said many legislators had received complaints from constituents who pointed to a perceived inequity of being required to pass drug tests for employment while people receiving tax dollars weren’t held to the same standard. She said the underlying goal was to help people “emerge a victor over drugs, a more productive citizen, and — if children are involved — a better parent.”

Comments

Melissa Sigler 5 years, 5 months ago

I want to know if people deserve three chances to stay off drugs before their funding is cut. Should probably check on prescription drugs too, not just illegal ones.

Stuart Evans 5 years, 5 months ago

"You might think some legislators are on drugs given some of the things that happen in the Capitol," said House Minority Leader Paul Davis,


no, Paul, I do not think anyone in the legislature is on drugs. If they were, then likely they would be more open minded and understanding of humanity. Let me clarify, I don't think any of them are on marijuana, which is really what drug testing is looking for since it's the only one that will stay in your system for more than a few days, even though no residual side effects remain even after a few hours of use. Mandatory drug testing does nothing but destroy the lives of people already struggling, by deeming them unworthy of utilizing the public help available. They could lose food benefits, housing, daycare and even their job.

Many elected officials drink alcohol, smoke tobacco, use prescription pain medication or even drink coffee in order to alter their mental state. why must marijuana users be relegated to the bottom of society for their alternative choice?

situveux1 5 years, 5 months ago

I'm curious if other states do this. Seems like a common sense law to me. I have to pee in the cup to keep my job, so if the state is your only source of income, I don't see why you shouldn't have to do the same.

canusayduh 5 years, 5 months ago

Personally I have a problem funding people's drug habits with my tax dollars. I would think that would be common sense to most. I'm not in any way suggesting that those receiving assistance all fit a profile of substance abuse. I understand public assistance is a way of offering most a "hand up". However, I also know of specific cases where, as soon as the money came in, the first visit was to their supplier, not the store to buy "diapers and detergent". One particular person even had their house foreclosed on, but never went a day without, what am I saying...more than a few hours, without a hit. I'm sure that isn't a lone instance. Again, I'm not profiling any group of people. Just citing my personal observations, which explains why I'd support such a measure.

jafs 5 years, 5 months ago

But it's ok if they spend the money on cigarettes and alcohol?

situveux1 5 years, 5 months ago

jafs: Cigarettes and alcohol are legal, marijuana and other illicit drugs are not. Big difference. Although it would be interesting if they would combine this bill with the public smoking ban, wouldn't it? I don't know how they get their cash, but couldn't it be on a debit type of card like they gave to Hurricaine Katrina people and then block the sale of cigarettes when using those cards. I guess that's probably not possible, but it's interesting to think about.

smileyface 5 years, 5 months ago

If they can come up with 1 million a year for testing why are we closing schools???? Use the money to educate the kids because the real drug users will find a way around the test.

newsreader 5 years, 5 months ago

Can't get federal assistance for college if you have ANY kind of drug charge, even 1 joint. Why should people get welfare?!

somedude20 5 years, 5 months ago

"proposing an amendment mandating the 165 members of the Legislature undergo the same type of screening"

did not know that turds could pee

love2bike 5 years, 5 months ago

Unfortunately, I don't think we have medications that will cure the reasoning processes of legislators. Can't fix stupid.

thinkagain 5 years, 5 months ago

The problem with this kind of policy - drug testing welfare recipients- is that you spend MORE money on tracking and enforcement than is actually given to the welfare recipient in cash. In Douglas County a mother and one child only get about $352 dollars per month. It's less in Wichita, about $326. (Which is, incidentally, the same amount as it was 24 years ago.) It just is not a good use of tax payer dollars.

Kornphlake 5 years, 5 months ago

Why is the Legislature not saving our schools? Why is there $1 million for this when we are closing schools? I have seen proposals for all types of stupid distractions in the past couple of days, but no mention of how to save schools. Is this bill really going to help anybody? Or is it going to take away the only lifeline some families have, so some Redumblicans in the middle of the state can force their agendas on more people?

Phil Minkin 5 years, 5 months ago

In addition to legislators, and wefare recipents, anyone buying a gun should be tested. What do you think second ammendment folks?

Phillbert 5 years, 5 months ago

If it is so critical that we test people who get state assistance then let us not forget recipients of corporate welfare. Drug test the owners of any company getting government subsidies and/or tax breaks.

SpunKey 5 years, 5 months ago

Another fine example of government spending too much money and creating new rules when they can't control their current spending or enforce current laws.

Interesting stategy of adding this amendment to the bill. If a senator votes against this bill (with rider) will they be suspected of using drugs? Will it coherce some to vote for it?

If we really want people to buy diapers and detergent, then don't give them money... give them diapers and detergent (bought in bulk and handed out like the government surplus food was). Seems that woudl be much easier to monitor and far less overhead in administration. Sure they could then sell the diapers for drug money, but that was always part of the equation. As it is, they can sell their WIC card to a third party (say at 50% face value). But finding buyers for diapers and baby formula is harder than finding someone who needs general groceries.

MyName 5 years, 5 months ago

This is dumb. Let the law enforcement people look for the dopes using dope, and let the welfare people give out assistance. I'm not saying they shouldn't turn in people if they notice they're doing drugs, but honestly, this sort of legislation is going to accomplish nothing.

Joe Hyde 5 years, 5 months ago

Introducing a bill that, if passed, would allow an open season on the hunting of mountain lions. Banning K2 even though no scientific evidence has been presented to establish any dangerous or harmful psychoactive properties. Mandatory drug testing for all state legislators. These and other bizarre twitchings from our Republican-dominated legislature.

I could be wrong, but I think what's going on here is that a number of Republican legislators are trying their best to introduce extreme "social control" bills now, in an ambitious attempt to establish or solidify their ultra-conservative philosophical bona fides in advance of the (assumed by them) election of Sam Brownback as governor.

Whether these bills that they introduce get enacted into law is irrelevant. It's the psychological tone of the bills -- their ultimate aim -- that is what matters most. By acting now to advertise their personal piety, these legislators hope to increase their chances of being picked to hold important posts within the (anticipated) new administration.

paisley 5 years, 5 months ago

Seems reasonable...Enforcing it...another matter.

Larry Miller 5 years, 5 months ago

I thought that there was no cash involved. It was all on a "debit card." Which won't let them buy things that are not approved. So the money can't be used to buy drugs.

jon_redcorn 5 years, 5 months ago

to healthcare moocher, you might be one of the most closed minded, prejudice, un-educated, and just plain ignorant people i've ever heard an opinion from. your close minded generalization of people needing state assistance is offensive at best. not to mention beligerently uneducated and obviously poor researched. there are infinite reasons that someone could be needing state assistance such as maternity leave for pregnant women, or military situations such as i am going through. so save your playground taunts and hurtful generalizations for those who arent at rock bottom. why don't you go pull the legs off a spider or something? as far as the drug testing thing goes, i think that is something that the citizens (and only the citizens) of the state should be able to vote on. all of us should make that determination. not close-minded beaureaucrats.

jon_redcorn 5 years, 5 months ago

in fact, why dont we just start drug testing every american citizen? if all you feel so strongly about those on welfare being tested and legislators being tested and grandparents being tested or whatever, then lets introduce mandatory drug testing to every american and just let the facism roll in full speed! then we're only a few more years from total communism! fun!

Alexander Neighbors 5 years, 5 months ago

fact the drug tests are done by lab one located in olathe ks. Fact each drug test cost $40.00 fact lab one is making a but load of money from this........

PrettyTony 5 years, 5 months ago

Thats crazy. Anyone in favor of that craziness just sounds flat out stupid.

ferrislives 5 years, 5 months ago

Food stamps must be used for food. But public assistance can be used for anything, including illegal drugs. Why should we as taxpayers fund the illegal drug trade? Welfare isn't meant to fund drug and alcohol habits, but it's obviously being used as that by some.

I think that most people receiving welfare are good people trying to get by in the best way that they can. To them, welfare is a temporary thing, not a crutch.

But I also know someone right now that would lose her welfare checks if they tested her. She's going nowhere, and doesn't care. She works part-time, and isn't motivated to be anything better. The current welfare system doesn't help these types of people become productive citizens; it just enables them to continue blaming everyone else for their problems, while they sit on their butts watching Maury Povich.

Alexander Neighbors 5 years, 5 months ago

Funny the legislature receives state money (pay) they threw a big stink about drug testing people who receive state money they should be tested too or throw out the whole testing bill

valgrlku 5 years, 5 months ago

I'm still confused about how "cash assistance" works. I know people who have children, earn under $500 a month (working part-time) and still don't qualify for cash assistance. They do receive a Vision card for groceries, but no cash. From the article, it would appear that this bill would only affect people who receive cash assistance. Is that correct?

Long gone are the days of "welfare mothers" - to qualify for services, you must be employed (and working a minimum number of hours per week) or actively looking for work. It's not like people just get to sit around, do nothing, and then, get loads of cash for personal use. Thusly, I question ferrislives post...

notajayhawk 5 years, 5 months ago

AreUNorml (anonymous) says...

"Let me clarify, I don't think any of them are on marijuana, which is really what drug testing is looking for since it's the only one that will stay in your system for more than a few days, even though no residual side effects remain even after a few hours of use."

Sorry to burst your bubble, but current drug testing methods can look back for several months.


thinkagain (anonymous) says...

"The problem with this kind of policy - drug testing welfare recipients- is that you spend MORE money on tracking and enforcement than is actually given to the welfare recipient in cash."

Using your figures, that's 12x$352=$4224 in cash. Testing for drugs once per year, a normal drug screen costs about $11, even a high-tech verification or hair test is a small percentage of the benefit amount.


SpunKey (anonymous) says...

"Interesting stategy of adding this amendment to the bill. If a senator votes against this bill (with rider) will they be suspected of using drugs?"

Interesting viewpoint - is everyone that's opposed to wiretapping trying to hide something?


LarryM (anonymous) says...

"I thought that there was no cash involved. It was all on a "debit card." Which won't let them buy things that are not approved. So the money can't be used to buy drugs."

And that kind of naivite is one of the reasons we should be doing the testing.

(BTW, the food stamps portion of what's on an EBT card can only be used for certain items; the cash portion can be used to buy anything, or you can withdraw the cash from any ATM just like your bank debit card.)

Alexander Neighbors 5 years, 5 months ago

valgrlku: Drug testing happens for any one receiving any type of State Assistance

georgiahawk 5 years, 5 months ago

It is good to see that all of the less government, get the government out of my life, zealots are out on this one. Hypocrits! This is the type of thing that makes conservatives dangerous, far more dangerous than any social program. Hypocrits!

Bob_Keeshan 5 years, 5 months ago

Nurnberg (anonymous) says...

I suspect much of government assistance indirectly subsidizes drug trafficking and organized crime.

I suspect much of the government assistance provided to businesses indirectly subsidizes drug trafficking and organized crime.

To support my suspicions, I have exactly as much data as you have to support yours.

Drug testing is fine so long as you apply it to all consumers of government revenues. This proposal doesn't do that, and the Representative proposing it has no interest in doing that.

Hence, it is discriminatory.

Stuart Evans 5 years, 5 months ago

notajayhawk, i hate to burst your bubble, but cocaine, meth, shrooms, acid, and alcohol will not stay in your system for more than about a week at most. meanwhile, marijuana can be identified in individuals up to 60 days after use, even though the effects of the drug are gone within the same day. these tests are about finding marijuana users.

Stuart Evans 5 years, 5 months ago

Nurnberg, I suspect that the war on drugs contributes 100% to organized crime. it also contributes to a decline in American society and respect for law enforcement.

Imagine if the government wasn't spending $15.5 Billion annually in the war on mostly pot, and Tens of Billions of American dollars weren't going south of the border, but instead were circulated back into local economies through legitimate business practices, and imagine all the tax revenue from those legitimate businesses and Billions & Billions of dollars floating around. Now imagine a hard working individual who prefers to smoke some pot instead of getting drunk and violent, but gets arrested for possession. That guy loses his job, his ability to get another one, now no chance for government assistance, and ends up committing crimes to make ends meet. Sure he could have just stopped smoking marijuana, but why should he have to, when the government sponsors much more dangerous recreational and pharmacological drugs?

situveux1 5 years, 5 months ago

To be employed by the state, you have to pass a pee test. So since state workers have to pee in the cup and welfare recipients don't, it's discriminatory, right Capt. Kangaroo? It makes no sense why state workers are subjected to drug testing to keep their job, but anybody without a job can get state money and never have to take a drug test. If you want to claim discrimination, then it's the state workers who actually work that are being discriminated against, not the ones cashing their welfare checks.

evilwickedsire 5 years, 5 months ago

does the state not know what medicare drug plans cover, marinol which is thc, so when you test our elders who have section 8 and they come back dirty are you going to throw them out on the street. what happened to the constitution, life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we elected then to run our state not our lives who are they to say what makes us happy. If my grandmother wants to smoke a joint so her arthritis would stop hurting long enough for her to get some sleep then let her. if a cancer patient is too sick to eat let the marinol give them an appetite. let us vote califonia, oregon, washinton, colorado and many other states made it legal.

Graczyk 5 years, 5 months ago

Notajayhawk,

Urine tests only go back a month at the latest - most substances can only be detected for a week. Though the article did not specify which method is proposed in the bill, I think urine is the most likely and cost effective. (Unless my drug testing lore is woefully out of date. It's nothing I worry about.)

Also, I think the math works out like this. 8400 on the dole * one third of recipients to be tested annually = 2800 people 8%-12% will be caught = 224-336 people If all of these people are cut off (which they won't be) then it would result in a savings range of: 2244,224 (yearly dole) = $946,176 to 3364,224 (yearly dole) = $1,419,264

So, this could be a loss. Particularly since those who test positive will be multiple strikes. That means multiple tests to run.

In any case, this is a move about ideology rather than money.

Alexander Neighbors 5 years, 5 months ago

this makes a good song........(from afroman) They were gona vote on some bills but then they got high. they were gona help the kansas people but they got high. and now there's a bunch of stupid legislation and i know why. because they got high. because they got high. because they got high.

remember_username 5 years, 5 months ago

Wait, you mean members of the state government aren't already tested for drugs? Why, that's just insane! Sure, you'd like to guarantee those receiving state or federal assistance wouldn't spend the money on drugs. But by the same token (no pun intended) you'd like to think those receiving state per diem aren't spending that money on drugs either - let alone steering the boat when they're high.

Stuart Evans 5 years, 5 months ago

I like productive drug users as well. hell, i are one. But I don't want to see legislation that takes people who are already at risk and steers them towards abusing alcohol over marijuana. alcohol has been proven to be much more dangerous to the user and everyone around them than pot ever could be. People are going to try and self medicate regardless of the law or the consequences. 15million monthly marijuana smokers proves that. So people who are not mentally sound, or who find themselves at rock bottom, often choose drugs or alcohol to ease their personal anguish.

notajayhawk 5 years, 5 months ago

georgiahawk (anonymous) says...

"It is good to see that all of the less government, get the government out of my life, zealots are out on this one.

"Hypocrits!"

Fine, georgia, we'll keep the government out of peoples' lives by not drug testing them. We'll also cut off their food stamps and TANF, since they don't want the government in their lives. That okay with you?

What?

No?

Hypocrit.


AreUNorml (anonymous) says...

"notajayhawk, i hate to burst your bubble, but cocaine, meth, shrooms, acid, and alcohol will not stay in your system for more than about a week at most. meanwhile, marijuana can be identified in individuals up to 60 days after use, even though the effects of the drug are gone within the same day. these tests are about finding marijuana users."

AreUNorml, again, I hate to burst your bubble, but...

This is something I do for a living. I actually just got done with another training on this very subject.

1) Should I point out you've already changed from 'more than a few days' to 'about a week'?

2) The reason drug tests can be positive well beyond the time there is any psychotropic effect from the substance is because we don't test for the substance. We test for the metabolites, i.e. the byproducts created when your body metabolizes the substance (e.g. we don't test for cocaine, we look for BZE).

3) The time frames you mention are oversimplified. All substances metabolized by the body have a half-life. How long of a period the metabolites remain detectable depends on a number of factors, including the amount ingested, frequency of use, body mass, metabolism, etc. - not to mention the sensitivity of the test employed (they're not all the same). Using marijuana as an example, a single use of a small amount will be undetectable in as little as a couple of days, a fairly regular user somewhere around a month, a very heavy user more than two months. I routinely see positive results for meth 10 days to 2 weeks after last use, I've even seen cocaine beyond ten days.

4) Perhaps the reason they don't care if we miss out on catching someone who used cocaine last month is because they are only looking for people who use it a bit more frequently.

5) All those time frames, however, are for serum levels - blood and urine specimens. Perhaps you've heard of hair tests? Those routinely go back 3 months or more. Because of the expense, they're not used as frequently as urine tests - but then, they don't have to be, do they?

Stuart Evans 5 years, 5 months ago

you do that for a living? Then you are part of the problem. of course you're all about testing more people. job security anyone?

I'm done with you.

Bob_Keeshan 5 years, 5 months ago

situveux1 (anonymous) says...

To be employed by the state, you have to pass a pee test.

Really? Can you link to support your claim that all employees of the state have to pass a pee test?

situveux1 (anonymous) says...

but anybody without a job can get state money and never have to take a drug test

Are you talking about unemployment? How does this proposal apply to "anybody without a job"?

svenway_park 5 years, 5 months ago

Unemployed architects who blog continuously about Bong-Hits should be tested when they renew their license.

Devon Kissinger 5 years, 5 months ago

I think the drug testing is a great idea. This isn't a matter of the government getting into your life, if you are drawing welfare payments, it already is. I also believe that testing the legislators should be mandatory, since they are the ones that propose and pass laws that affect our lives. I know of one legislative member that should be quaking in his/her boots.

Sunny Parker 5 years, 5 months ago

Get rid of welfare payments all together! Take care of yourselves and take care of those kids you keep spitting out!

It is not my responsibility to take care of you!

No welfare check...No drug test!

Sunny Parker 5 years, 5 months ago

Get rid of welfare payments all together! Take care of yourselves and take care of those kids you keep spitting out!

It is not my responsibility to take care of you!

No welfare check...No drug test!

Linda Endicott 5 years, 5 months ago

The legislators doth protest too much...

Sounds to me that maybe some of them are afraid that their drug habits will be found out...

They receive tax dollars, too...why not test them?

Flap Doodle 5 years, 5 months ago

Test everyone who is pretending to be an architect.

pace 5 years, 5 months ago

I have always thought that the state house should have a Breathalyzer at the door.

Sunny Parker 5 years, 5 months ago

I should not be forced to take care of these people. I don't give a rats @ss if they are smoking pot or not. I should only be expected to take care of myself.

Let donations and the few that chose to give up their hard earned money take care of these people.

Enough is enough....free healthcare, section 8, cell phones, utility bills, food stamps...the list goes on and on!

sweetiepie 5 years, 5 months ago

This was kind of funny and interesting until I saw who proposed it.

This is a legislator who shows up for every committee meeting late, and then leaves early. Or, just as likely, she just doesn't show up at all. Then she wastes the other legislators' time by trying to repeat subcommittee meetings during the whole committee meetings, because she didn't attend the original meeting and hasn't taken the time to catch up on what happened there.

Her behavior has become sort of a joke around the statehouse, and until she starts acting like a professional, no one is going to take any of her ideas (even if she would come up with a good one) seriously.

ferrislives 5 years, 4 months ago

valgrlku (anonymous) says... "It's not like people just get to sit around, do nothing, and then, get loads of cash for personal use. Thusly, I question ferrislives post..."

valgrlku, I never said that. The person I know is not actively looking for work, because she's content where she is. But as I said, she does work a part time job making nothing, and that job is under 20 hours a week. If she got more hours at that job, she's get less money. So there's no incentive to do any better, which is the biggest problem with the system. And yes, she does have a child, but she doesn't even have that child all of the time.

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