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Archive for Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Drug testing for Kansas welfare recipients proposed

February 14, 2012

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— A group of Kansas lawmakers have proposed a bill that would require a third of Kansas welfare recipients to pay to be tested for drugs.

Under the proposal, the state will refund the cost of the tests to anyone who tests negative for drugs. Someone who tested positive would have to undergo a drug evaluation and possibly be required to attend an education or treatment program.

A second positive test would require the person to attend an education or treatment program and remove him or her from welfare for a year. A third positive test would cause permanent removal from welfare.

The Kansas City Star reports a household that includes someone who is banned from the program would have to get aid from a state-approved third party.

Comments

autie 2 years, 2 months ago

Regardless of the merits of this crazy idea, it is always interesting to me that all these great ideas are hatched (I strongly suspect) by conservative cluckheads who have never known poverty, never known anybody in poverty and have absolutely no perspective or frame of reference to understand people in desperate circumstances. Epic Fail.

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Gandalf 2 years, 2 months ago

Question. Why are they only proposing testing 1/3rd? What criteria is suggested to select the ones to be tested?

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grammaddy 2 years, 2 months ago

Aren't our legislators paid with the public's tax money, just like folks on welfare? Let's just test everyone. Then we can pidgeon-hole everyone into a "user/non-user" category.

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pace 2 years, 2 months ago

I think testing anyone who wants a hunting license, fishing license, permit to carry and a drivers license should also be tested and retested on a random basis.

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Liberty275 2 years, 2 months ago

Further, how many children do you want to starve to punish momma for being a cluckhead?

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Liberty275 2 years, 2 months ago

This is clearly an illegal search and the SCOTUS will rule it unconstitutional.

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denak 2 years, 2 months ago

Whereas I do not disagree at all with what you say about mental illness and self-medicating, I do not think mandating treatment is the way to go. First, an addict has to want to get clean. An addict has to get clean for himself or herself. Not for her children. Not for their family. Not to save their welfare benefits, but for themselves. I work at a drug and alcohol rehab. I can't tell you how many clients walk through those doors because they are one step away from doing serious prison time and they were ordered there by a judge. Or they are one step away from having their parental rights terminated and they were ordered there by KVC or TFI or some other foster care agency. And sadly, the majority don't make it. Intermediate treatment is not the end. It is the beginning of the beginning and as long as people expect an addict to be "cured" after 28 days, nothing positive is going to happen. Being punitive is not the way to approach this issue. If the state wants to drug-test every welfare reciepient, fine. I don't agree with it on different grounds but it is a total excercise in futility if the only way they are going to approach this is to kick people off the rolls or to order treatment. No, there has to be much more done and they can start with providing mental health med vouchers to those that do have duel diagnoses. Let them do Intermediate treatment. It will give them a safe place to get stable and help identify needs. Then after intermediate treatment, make it a requirement that they must attend x number of AA/NA meetings a week and have their sponser verify that they did. Then give the person a med voucher to get their Abilify or Lithium or whatever anti-depressant they are on and make it mandatory that they attend one to two mental health sessions a week. The counselor can fill out a form and send it in. Will this take money? Yes, it will but in the long run it is going to be cheaper than housing them in prison. The person who really wants help is going to want all of this. If the person pops and they just don't give a crap and they don't want help, fine kick them off but the majority of people who are going to pop are going to do so because they have more serious underlying issues and if the outcome really is to help people become more self-sufficient, then we need to have a more comprehensive, whole body approach. However, I'm not naive enough to believe any of that is going to happen. The powers that be view being poor as a moral failing just as they see addiction as a moral failing. This is all about sticking it to the poor. It is a nice election sound bite but it isn't really going to solve any real issues and the people that need help the most, aren't going to get it.

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progressive_thinker 2 years, 2 months ago

I am posting this comment with the understanding that I will likely be severely pummeled, primarily by those with whom I would traditionally agree with.

My view is that dismissing the Florida experiment as a failure is quite premature, and based on faulty research design to study the impact of the program.

First off, the conclusion that the positive drug test rate was 2% is flawed. In fact, another 2% refused the test. In many circles, refusal of the drug test is treated the same as a positive drug test. For example, if a driver refuses to submit to a breath alcohol test, they receive sanctions nonetheless.

The bigger issue, however, is that the Florida experiment does not address the deterrent value of a testing program. We can never know how many drug users were confronted by the program with a choice about their usage, and then wisely chose to discontinue usage. In dong so, they likely able to improve their functioning in the community, hopefully becoming self sufficient.

It is an unfortunate reality that substance abuse is closely tied with mental illness, and particularly mental illness that is not being properly cared for. If you care for more details, Google "Dual Diagnosis." Self medication among the mentally ill is without a doubt rampant. Many of these unfortunates come to public assistance agencies for help with their daily needs. Having a means of deterring self medication, or alternatively, getting folks who test positive into appropriate screening and treatment could have a long term benefit to the assistance recipient and to the community as a whole.

That said, I await the keyboard lashing.......

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Mary Alexander 2 years, 2 months ago

The only thing I have to ask is did you have to pay for your test for employment? I never did the company paid for them. What they are asking is for those on welfare to pay for the test which really isn't right. If the state wants them to have it they should pay for it and if the person fails then remove them from welfare. But I still thank this is a waste of money.

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skinny 2 years, 2 months ago

If they want the money they'll get tested! If not, they won't! I have to get tested to work, so I beleive if I have to give them my hard earned money, then they should be tested as well! get're done!!

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miniflavors 2 years, 2 months ago

I think that woud be a great Idea...IF the Government did that , 3/4 of them would be kicked off for good...There goes Trillions of dollars restored. Now that is the best Idea I have heard yet..... Then lets cut the Presidents Check in 1/2......Then the X-presidents.....We don't need to pay them either........Lets cut there pay right off....They can get a job and earn money.... LEts seeeeee.....what next......the House....??? :)

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werekoala 2 years, 2 months ago

Wow, we're an opinionated bunch...

My two cents? I'm generally opposed to giving money to drug addicts. That's why I donate to charity, but never give the Usual Suspects downtown a dime.

That said, I'm also a pragmatist. And so I'm only going to be in favor of this if it saves us more money than it costs. Otherwise, we're just throwing money we don't have at the limbic system...

And from everything I've read, the poor people are LESS likely to be on drugs than the general population.

Stands to reason, drugs cost money. Poor people don't have any money. Therefore, by the transitive property, poor people don't have drugs!

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Linda Endicott 2 years, 2 months ago

Why do people always seem so eager to think the worst about the poor?

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blue73harley 2 years, 2 months ago

"Also sounds like a way to make producers of drug testing richer at the taxpayer's expense."

Maybe, unless the gov't decides to play hardball.

Formerly, our safety sensitive workers were given the chance to go for an assistance program. No longer the case. One strike and you are out of a job. Not saying I agree but it did save the company money. No more rehab. No more continued drug tests.

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tomatogrower 2 years, 2 months ago

I could understand testing someone who has been arrested in the past for drugs, or someone that a social worker suspects might be using drugs, but what is the purpose of wasting money on testing everyone? I thought Republicans favored saving money and smaller government? I wonder what donors brother-in-law from Florida needs a six figure salary to administer this program? Also sounds like a way to make producers of drug testing richer at the taxpayer's expense.

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denak 2 years, 2 months ago

....Someone who tested positive would have to undergo a drug evaluation and possibly be required to attend an education or treatment program. A second positive test would require the person to attend an education or treatment program and remove him or her from welfare for a year.....

Putting aside the Constitutional issues, just who do you think is going to end up paying for these assessments and treatment programs? Right now, there are four ways that residential drug treatment is paid for---three of them via the tax payer. There is private insurance. Then there is SB(Senate Bill) 123, which is for those who are guests of the Department of Corrections, and then there are AAPS waivers that the state gives and the state pays for, and then there is Medicaid. It use to be that the majority of individuals who went through residential drug treatment (Intermediate treatment for 28 days) were funded through AAPS. But the AAPS program has basically imploded. They are getting less and less funding which means that those who need AAPS waivers, are not getting funded OR they are being put down further on the list after Medicaid. Those who are coming to treatment who are funded with Medicaid are coming with multiple and severe psychiatric illnesses. These are not people who hold jobs, they do not have private insurance and they are quite often homeless. Almost every single one of them come to treatment with a long history of abuse and trauma. The people who might pop poisitve on this test are already going to be known to workers in the social services. There children will probably already be on KVC's radar. This testing isn't going to bag the single mom who is going to college or the family where the dad is laid off and they need food stamps. The people who are going to get caught are the people they already know about. Kicking them off food stamps isn't going to solve anything. It's not going to save money. If they pop, they have to get an assessment from RADAC, which the state will pay for. And then they will get sent to Intermediate treatment, which the state will pay for and, in the meantime, if their kids are not in state custody, they will be put in state custody, which the state will pay for. Tell me again, how is this going to save the tax payer money????

This is nothing more than political grandstanding. The powers that be are counting on the fact that most people don't know how drug treatment is funded in this state. It sounds good as a election sound bite but the reality is very different. The tax payer is going to pay MORE, not less.

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blue73harley 2 years, 2 months ago

Do any of you work?

To get a job at most places these days, you have to submit to testing before you are hired.

Once you are hired, you may be subject to testing under "reasonable cause or suspicion".

If you happen to be employed as a "safety sensitve" worker in the transportation or aircraft industry, you are subject to random drug and alchol tests continually. If you fail, you are banned Permanently from working in a safety sensitive position for the rest of your life.

Seems to me if the workers that PAY for your welfare get tested, you should be subject to tests as well.

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 2 months ago

Typical republicans = more and more and more big government.

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tange 2 years, 2 months ago

Kansas... as stagnant as you think.

i.e., "official" Kansas

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pace 2 years, 2 months ago

I am all for the Koch bros, the legislature, the governor getting drug and alcohol testing on a regular basis. Little programs should be based on "Don't let legislators vote drunk". . Any corporation receiving the tax cuts or loop holes of corporate welfare should have an audit of their books as well.

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cozborn 2 years, 2 months ago

Can any of you people calling out the fourth amendment please explain how this violates it?

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Glenn Reed 2 years, 2 months ago

Drug testing welfare recipients hasn't worked so well in Florida. About the only good thing to come of it was giving Aasif Mandvi an opportunity to make this excellent piece:

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-february-2-2012/poor-pee-ple?xrs=share_copy

So, anyway... It's not a cost saving measure. It's about trying to keep public money free of drugs, otherwise the legislators would submit to a drug test simply to demonstrate a point.

Essentially, this is about embarrassing people. Making them feel shame.

There's other ways to make people feel shame.

We could post their photos on a website. Wearing costumes. Maybe just nude.

We could make them wear state-approved poor people uniforms any time they're in public. Make it a crime for poor people to wear anything else.

Any other ideas?

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Gotland 2 years, 2 months ago

I support drug testing for welfare recipients. While you’re at it, examine the brains of all Obama voters.

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 2 years, 2 months ago

They should not be paid back. Drug screening should be part of the program, with the costs deducted from those who choose to leech off the taxpayer instead of work.

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kansanjayhawk 2 years, 2 months ago

Anyone who takes public aid should expect to meet certain expectations of the State. If you don't want to be drug tested simply don't apply for welfare benefits. We certainly need to begin to make welfare have some strings attached!

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Stuart Sweeney 2 years, 2 months ago

I love it. The bunch of knotheads, aka legislators, want to enact legislation that will repay those who test negative for drugs. So they must assume someone applying for welfare has the money for drug testing. If they can afford to pay for drug test why would they apply for welfare? Hey dumbies they are applying for welfare because they are broke and need a hand!

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rockchalk1977 2 years, 2 months ago

Wouldn't a one way bus ticket to Missouri be cheaper?

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chootspa 2 years, 2 months ago

If anyone needs proof our politicians are totally unserious, here it is. Propose a law that costs more than it saves all for the purpose of demonizing welfare recipients with an inaccurate stereotype.

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nekansan 2 years, 2 months ago

Fine! As long as it is also a requirement for any and all public office.......

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JackMcKee 2 years, 2 months ago

Can Kansas politicians get any dumber?

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punchee 2 years, 2 months ago

I love that our representatives are getting their ideas from Facebook. Next up, "RESOLVED: Please repost if you hate cancer and love kittens..."

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kernal 2 years, 2 months ago

I'm also wondering if Florida's numbers are different than what they might be in many other states, as Florida has a higher percentage of an older population than most of the U.S. The older populations, who I consider to be the pre-Baby Boomer generations, aren't as likely to be drug abusers as those of us born post-WWII (that's World War Two).

It's time our state legislators quit putting carts before the horses when they come up with these brain storms which get the state in hot water and cost more money in the long run.

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 2 years, 2 months ago

Neuter them too... if you can't feed 'em don't breed 'em!

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Steve Jacob 2 years, 2 months ago

I do have mixed feeling on this. But one thing everybody should realize is welfare is not a right.

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beatrice 2 years, 2 months ago

I wonder which legislators have stock in companies that test urine for drugs?

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acg 2 years, 2 months ago

For a brief moment in time, between 2009 and 2010, my family went seriously broke and I was forced to swallow my pride and apply for insurance for the kids so they would be covered while we got back on our feet. During the time I had my children on state insurance I would've been happy to suppy urine for an analysis. However, I would also like to see the legislators tested, as well. I also agree with whomever above said anyone receiving money or subsidies from the state should also be tested. If we're going to play this "who's high?" game, let's freakin' play! P*ss tests all around!!

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Matthew Herbert 2 years, 2 months ago

how about instead of spending money to test them we simply make it policy to revoke one's right to receive welfare payments for one year if they are caught with a controlled substance.

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Steve Bunch 2 years, 2 months ago

I'm OK with this if it includes recipients of corporate welfare.

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FalseHopeNoChange 2 years, 2 months ago

Drug testing Obama's constituents is risky. Will they need a photo ID to get the test?

What if you are hooked on the "morning-after pill"? Waiver?

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KansasVoices 2 years, 2 months ago

Test everyone in the Capitol. Legislators and Lobbyists. If a person or any organization receives any funds from the State of Kansas --- here is your cup and there is your curtain.

Wouldn't you want to know what Governor Brownback was "on" when he endorsed Rick Perry?

And Secretary Kobach, what was in the Kool-Aid you drank at the CPAC meeting?

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pizzapete 2 years, 2 months ago

Why is it ok to discriminate against people who use drugs? Bring back the inquisition and save the state some real money.

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muddfoot55 2 years, 2 months ago

Drug testing needs to be written into the "argeement," that anyone receiving any form of public assistance, that testing WILL occur. Without notice, on the spot. It goes without saying that those found in possession of illegal substances (arrested and or convicted) should automatically be dropped from assistance and not receive benefits for x amount of time. There has to be some sort of accountability on the part of those receiving benefits.
As an operator of an automobile, I have a legal responsibility to follow the traffic laws, carry insurance and drive soberly........ Its a privilege not a right. Why should receiving public assistance be any different.?

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Lawrence Morgan 2 years, 2 months ago

Vertigo, you are right on! Great comments..

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autie 2 years, 2 months ago

Vertigo, right on. You summed it all up.

Following the logic of this proposal, all users of federally or state tax funded roads should be drug tested to ensure they are not endangering the general public. All students in public schools should be tested, at their own expense of course. My question, is which lawmaker has a vested interest with the testing companies?

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zzgoeb 2 years, 2 months ago

Florida has this...the supporters SWORE the recipients were "druggies"...at least 70 percent of them. Well, guess what, after several months, it's turning out at 2 percent...Has anyone read the 4th amendment? How does this fit into "less government"? Oh, wait that's only for the 1 percent!

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Steve Swaggerty 2 years, 2 months ago

Let's not forget there are masking agents to cover the use of illicit drugs. So these people can have their cake and eat it too!!

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Roland Gunslinger 2 years, 2 months ago

An alternate would be to legalize drugs, tax it, and let those on welfare who use drugs pay for their own welfare via taxes.

As long as a persons use of an intoxicating substance does not endanger another persons life or property then it should be legal.

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situveux1 2 years, 2 months ago

I agree with the sentiment of the bill, but if they're on welfare I doubt they can afford the cost of a drug test, even if it's reimbursed, they won't have the money to begin with. Plus, it takes months for the state to cut anybody a check. I'm glad they are making plans to get users some help too. I too don't want tax dollars going to drug users, but there's another side to this issue for people who test positive... They need help and this might be another way for them to get it.

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Stacy Napier 2 years, 2 months ago

this has been put to a bill before and failed. There is too many in this state that think everyone should get something no matter what they do or have done.

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James Roper 2 years, 2 months ago

This would apply to corporate welfare recipients also?

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Roland Gunslinger 2 years, 2 months ago

Uhh... can we see how this is going to pan out in the courts first before we jump waist deep into a pile of dung?

1- Florida's drug testing law was an utter failure with only 2% of those tested being positive. It cost the state more to test than it was saving in welfare payments.

2- Then there's that whole pesky 4th amendment probable cause and reasonable suspicion barrier- which is why Florida's program is on hiatus.

I understand, and somewhat agree, with the reasoning behind the legislation. Heck I don't want my tax dollars going to someone so they can go right out and buy some meth. But I'm not willing to bypass the Constitutional rights of others, and waste millions of taxpayer dollars in lawsuits if it turns out these laws are un-Constitutional. Let Florida and the other states spend their money defending the lawsuits, if they win and the courts rule they don't violate the 4th, then by all means go for it. Just don't be surprised when we discover those on welfare use at a lower rate than the rest of the population and this program ends up costing us more to administer than we save.

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RDE87 2 years, 2 months ago

I support this bill. I do not see a reason why tax payer’s money should go to someone who is using them to buy drugs, or subsiding their living while their income is being used to support their drug addiction.

However, what is the person cannot afford the test in the first place? Or is the cost of the test simply netted from their welfare funds?

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Gary Anderson 2 years, 2 months ago

I want the lawmakers tested! They are the ones hurting this wonderful country!!!

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