Archive for Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Drug testing bill goes to governor

April 3, 2013


— Kansas residents applying for welfare or unemployment benefits would have to submit to drug tests under legislation that won final legislative approval on Tuesday, though Gov. Sam Brownback has yet to say whether he plans to sign it.

The bill would require the Department of Children and Family Services to screen individuals for illegal drug use when they apply for unemployment or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF, benefits. For anyone who tests positive for drugs, the state would provide mandatory drug treatment and job skills training funded by TANF or Medicaid.

Providing that drug treatment would cost between $2,200 and $6,300 per person, according to estimates provided during Senate debate on the bill in February. The legislation also requires that elected officials and some state employees undergo drug testing if there were a reasonable suspicion about their behavior.

Senate Vice President Jeff King, the bill’s primary sponsor, said the measure strikes a balance between being good stewards with public resources and trying to help people suffering from substance abuse kick their habits and lead productive lives.

“Of all the drug testing bills in the nation, this is one of the most focused on giving people an opportunity to improve their lives and to see that their children are taken care of,” said King, an Independence Republican.

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley said though the bill has provisions for treatment and job skills training it still perpetuates the view that poor residents on state assistance are drug abusers.

“We’ll see how it works, but it singles out a segment of society and stereotypes those people as drug users,” said Hensley, a Topeka Democrat. “I still think if it applies to these individuals who receive public funds, then it should also apply to CEOs of companies who receive economic incentives from government.”

A spokeswoman for Brownback said the governor hadn’t reviewed the bill or decided whether he would sign it into law. The bill is expected to be put before the governor in the next two weeks for his signature. The Senate voted 29-9 on Tuesday to accept changes made to the bill by the House last week.

The TANF program provided about $42 million in benefits for about 32,000 Kansas adults and children during fiscal 2012, which ended in June.

The bill also would require the Department of Administration to establish a drug screening program based on reasonable suspicion of illegal drug use for legislators, the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and certain public safety officials.

The rules also would cover state mental health positions, along with employees at the Kansas School for the Blind, Kansas School for the Deaf and state veterans agencies. It also covers all state law enforcement authorized to carry weapons, corrections officers, parole officers and heads of state agencies appointed by the governor.


lionheart72661 2 years, 7 months ago

Good, I have to undergo drug testing for a job so if I'm paying their benefits they need to be screened too.

ksjayhawk74 2 years, 7 months ago

Now you get to pay for everyone's drug test.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 7 months ago

"The legislation also requires that elected officials and some state employees undergo drug testing if there were a reasonable suspicion about their behavior."

So why assume that someone applying for assistance is abusing drugs, with no requirement of reasonable suspicion?

kernal 2 years, 7 months ago

This is riculous. This type of program was shown to be completely unnecessary, as well as an extreme waste of money, in other states. What constitutes "reasonable behavior"? It's obvious some of our legislators aren't exhibiting reasonable behavior, but will they be tested? I doubt it. The state either needs to test ALL elected officials and employees or none. While they're at it, they should also include tests for alcohol.

There will be law suits if this passes.

Thinking_Out_Loud 2 years, 7 months ago

I wouldn't want to be the government employee who tells the governor he has exhibited signs of "reasonable suspicion" and has to be tested. No, I wouldn't. Especially not after the civil service has been dismantled.

Haiku_Cuckoo 2 years, 7 months ago

Peeing in a cup in exchange for free money is a small price to pay. I question the return on investment though. If the state finds itself spending more money on drug tests than money it saves by withholding funds from druggies then I hope the program is quickly scrapped. Either that or deduct the cost of the drug test from the recipient's benefits over time.

UneasyRider 2 years, 7 months ago

Let's apply the same requirements to all the free loaders in the Kansas Legislature and also especially to the governor and his staff.

Adrienne Sanders 2 years, 7 months ago

This has already been done in Florida- and they spent WAY more money just doing the tests than they saved on identifying the very small percentage of drug users. Since KS is planning to then pay for treatment whether the person wants it or not, it'll be throwing even more money away.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 2 years, 7 months ago

Conservative Logic: Unwarranted Search= Accountability. Yeah, Go Figure. "You really didn't NEED those rights, did you?"

Thinking_Out_Loud 2 years, 7 months ago

I'm having difficulty understanding the principle you are referring to, consumer1? Are you saying that it is good policy to spend more money than we save just to prevent a handful of drug users from accessing benefits? Or that it is more important than due process and personal privacy?

mypointis 2 years, 7 months ago

"Peeing in a cup in exhange for free money is a small price to pay." My employer pays unemployment insurance. It is not my fault I am getting laid off. Not fired layed off due to lack of work. I have never done drugs in my life. I put in my time. I shouldn't have to pee in a cup to get unemployment benefits. This is just the state's way of getting out of paying people for benefits they deserve.

I agree there are people who take advantage of the system. But why screen innocent people? Come up with a better way.

Truthspeaker 2 years, 7 months ago

"But why screen innocent people?"

If it was known who was "innocent" and who was not beforehand, there wouldn't be a need for screening, would there?

jafs 2 years, 7 months ago

Generally speaking, folks have rights, and one of those rights is the freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.

So, in order to search people, the state usually has to have some sort of evidence or probable cause to get a warrant, describing specifically what they're looking for.

In the part of this that applies to state legislators, there has to be some sort of behavior that sparks concern before they're tested, but nothing of that sort with testing those applying for benefits.

Why are you so willing to have people's rights infringed without any sort of reason?

Liberty275 2 years, 7 months ago

Well said Jafs. It's disgusting watching people abandon their rights.

Hal Larsen 2 years, 7 months ago

Why no testing for alcohol or nicotine? Oh that's right. State gets to collect taxes on those.

mypointis 2 years, 7 months ago

If the government was making money off the illegal drugs we wouldn't even be discussing this issue.

bad_dog 2 years, 7 months ago

The government does make $$ off illegal drugs, whether it be through fines or penalties like confiscating assets. Oh and don't forget to purchase drug stamps if you are going to possess or sell drugs in Kansas. I believe there's also a fine for failing to purchase these stamps.

Hooligan_016 2 years, 7 months ago

And they are using TANF to pay for the drug screenings. What an absolute waste of money.

question4u 2 years, 7 months ago

"The legislation also requires that elected officials and some state employees undergo drug testing if there were a reasonable suspicion about their behavior."

If applied to elected officials this bill could cost the state a fortune, unless you think that alcohol, idiocy, or brain damage are sufficient by themselves to account for things like indecently exposing yourself in public while on a Congressional trip to the Holy Land, joking about murdering immigrants from helicopters while addressing the Kansas House, publicly accusing someone of bribery without a shred of evidence to support your allegations and then claiming that you were misunderstood, etc., etc.

Yes, by all means, let's test our elected officials and get them the help that they desperately need.

GUMnNUTS 2 years, 7 months ago

Does this mean we can have Kobach tested?

mypointis 2 years, 7 months ago

Someone needs to have him tested. An IQ test perhaps?

kernal 2 years, 7 months ago

Kobach's IQ is fine. It's one of his other mental processes that is sometimes questionable.

chootspa 2 years, 7 months ago

Sure. I'd suggest a psychopathy test.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 7 months ago

We establish elaborate and redundantly redundant bureaucracies, spending millions, so that we can save a nickel. Does that make sense? Of course not. Unless, we really, really want to save that particular nickel. Maybe this isn't about economic common sense. Maybe it's about making sure that that particular nickel doesn't wind up in the hands of someone who we really, really don't want to have that nickel. Even if it costs much more than a nickel to ensure that.

jafs 2 years, 7 months ago

Since there's nothing in this about denying benefits to those found with drugs in their system, this doesn't even accomplish that.

In fact, it provides for drug programs and job training for those found to be using drugs.

More up my alley than yours.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 7 months ago

Just a guess, but if I knew I was going to be drug tested and I also knew I would likely come up dirty in that test, I would politely decline to take the test. Perhaps that's the motivation of this legislation, the belief that users will simply not sign up for welfare. But as I said, that's just my guess.

Heather Perry 2 years, 7 months ago

or they will find a way to clean it up for said test!! Cocaine and meth only stay in your system for a few days marijuana is detectable for up to 30 days or more, but theres several clean out methods on the market!

chootspa 2 years, 7 months ago

Except the data from other states says that it doesn't pay off in actual reductions on the welfare/unemployment rosters. It just takes money from those who need it and further robs the program of resources.

You can believe that unemployment recipients are all just a bunch of dirty druggies, but that ain't gonna make it true.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 7 months ago

I certainly don't believe all unemployment recipients are a bunch of dirty druggies. Nor am I silly enough to believe the number is zero. I have no problem accepting the fact that the amount spent to catch those few would be greater than the amount saved. That doesn't change the fact that some people want to spend that money in just that way.

It's kind of like the death penalty. We know it's not cost effective. We know it's not likely to deter. But we want it anyway. (At least some do). As long as our elected officials deem it O.K., then it's assumed to be the will of the people.

The next question, of course, is is this legal? That's a separate issue that my original post didn't intend to address. I was just saying that sometimes people want something, even when it doesn't make economic sense?

Izabelsmom 2 years, 7 months ago

Aaaand what about the Kansans currently receiving assistance?

meggers 2 years, 7 months ago

I don't agree with any of this, but the unemployment piece is especially troubling. Unemployment is funded by the employee and employer, similar to Social Security and Medicare. Would they also suggest that people submit to a drug test before applying for benefits under those programs, as well?

I suspect this is just a scheme to allow the administration to take credit for improved unemployment numbers and a reduction in people needing welfare assistance. In reality, they are really just cutting those services for people for reasons completely unrelated to need, even for people who paid into unemployment with the expectation that it would be available to them should they ever find themselves needing it.

chootspa 2 years, 7 months ago

That's the scheme, but the math didn't even work out on that one. They found no significant reduction in new applicants and very few positive tests. This is ALEC legislation, so it may also be that part of the scheme is an excuse to give taxpayer money to drug testing companies.

Truthspeaker 2 years, 7 months ago

Just a wacky thought here....if you don't do illegal drugs, you've got nothing to worry about. Crazy, isn't it? Don't break the law and you don't have to worry about this.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 2 years, 7 months ago

Have you never broken the law, "Truth" speaker?

chootspa 2 years, 7 months ago

I don't do illegal drugs, and I'm not receiving benefits, but I do have something to worry about, and so should you. I worry about the waste of money on screening everyone for something very few people are actually doing. I worry about the illegal search. I don't have drugs in my car or house, either, but you better believe you need a warrant to search them.

jafs 2 years, 7 months ago

Actually, and unfortunately, the courts seem to have interpreted 4th amendment protections as being weaker in one's car.

So, they may not need a warrant to search your car.

In fact, in some places (NYC), they can do a "stop and frisk" without a warrant as well.

Both seem like blatant violations of the 4th amendment to me, but...

sturgen 2 years, 7 months ago

So are they to test for every check? Four tests a month? These people obviously are unable to perform math if this is supposed to save money. So now instead of paying postage to send checks out, now we have to pay more office people to run it, pay for lab costs, pay for lab techs, then pay for the huge new treatment center? I'm sure the ten people you will be able to kick off unemployment will cover these monthly costs. Not to mention all the legislature scrambling to cover their xyanex and painkiller addictions. Sorry Mr Brownsack taking your wife's pills is drug abuse. We'll see how many of them are still able the check in on the floor when half the body is in their mandatory treatment programs. However this crap will only effect poor and unemployed and make a strained system only cost ten times as much. Too bad the real abuse will just slip out of our hands as per usual. This is ignorance based legislation, where are we Texas? The sad part about these fools and us, is the new statement all around the world in regards to stupid legislative moves is; " holy s@8t, that is stupid, where are we kansas?" Perhaps we should skip the drug BS and just build a bigger treatment center for what I'm assuming will cost much less than implementation of this program, to help folks rather than punishing them under the guise of "help" nah that just makes sense, not our thing here in Kansas anymore.

tolawdjk 2 years, 7 months ago

It's been awhile, but I'm always happy to see traditional frontier gibberish.

This law reminds me of a shopping bender at Kohl's. Sure you saved $600, but you still spent $300 when in reality all you really needed was a new belt.

tolawdjk 2 years, 7 months ago

This has nothing to do with Will Rogers and his political bent or his place of birth. This has to do with you, and the state legislature, equating economic status with drug use. The legislature and Gov's office is at least afforded the dignity of looking for proof before requiring a drug test, whereas Joe Q. Public has a manditory piss in the cup.

Why is that? Why does the amount of folding money in one's wallet serve as an indicator for how mcuh dust is snorted up one's nose?

But you don't see it that way. No, with your ilk its all windowdressing and star-bellied Sneetches. They don't have stars on thars so they must be guilty.

Liberty275 2 years, 7 months ago

"It's been awhile, but I'm always happy to see traditional frontier gibberish."


jhawkinsf 2 years, 7 months ago

Why do you Democrats care so little about the billions of nickels and dimes being stolen? It adds up.

Speaking just for myself, and as neither a Democrat or a Republican, I care about both.

That said, if a person steals a million dollars, there is a remedy we as a society have to protect ourselves from this thief. And that is to throw him in jail. However, if a million people each steal one dollar, there is no practical remedy that we as a society have. We can't throw them all in jail. So they remain amongst us, likely stealing a dollar or two, every now and then. Again and again.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 2 years, 7 months ago

The Problem is that A person who steals Millions will probably never see a Jail cell, but a person who robs a convenience store of 50 bucks will see Jail Time immediately. The people with THE MILLIONS Make the Law.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 7 months ago

That's a completely different issue. Bernie Madoff saw jail. Other wealthy people did as well.

I think what KansasLiberal was talking about was a system where contractors are allowed to make huge profits, which is very different than stealing.

(Please correct me if I'm misinterpreting your comment, KsLib).

Thomas Bryce Jr. 2 years, 7 months ago

Why did I know some one would bring up Bernie Madhoff? He was Just one of the Fish in the Sea Of Corruption that is called Wall Street. He got caught in a ponzi Scheme. What about the people responsible for the complete melt down of our Housing and Banking Markets? Any one Prosecuted for That Yet? Anyone? And Yes I did get the part about 'War Contractors". Why Stop There? They are just Part of the Problem.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 7 months ago

Sorry I misinterpreted your comment. If people are convicted of crimes, they should be subject to the appropriate penalty. If it's millions, as you say, and they are convicted in a court of law, then off to jail, I say.

But then, what to do with the guy who steals a nickel today, a dime tomorrow and another nickel the next day? It makes no sense to bring that person up on charges, much less punish him in any meaningful way. So the consequence is nothing. We just let the thief continue stealing, a little at a time, time after time, teaching his children the same, until ... ?

bad_dog 2 years, 7 months ago

To me, using unemployment benefits to purchase drugs is more a matter of a poor choice in expenditures, than it is "nickels and dimes being stolen". The employee is paid those benefits as a result of the employment relationship; rather than purely the state's largesse.

Thinking_Out_Loud 2 years, 7 months ago

consumer1, did you really just compare persons living in poverty to skunks?

Never's a rhetorical question. I can see that you did.

akt2 2 years, 7 months ago

Think how many abusers will crop up. They will be testing for legal drugs also. Hopefully you will have a prescription in your name and aren't buying them on the street or taking Grandma's meds. There is quite a list on the drug screen panels. Amphetamines, Barbiturates, Benzodiazepines, Antidepressants, Opiates to name a few. It would probably an interesting experiment if nothing else. If they really want to make it interesting they could do the initial drug screen that everyone will be anticipating, and then start in with the random testing.

ferrislives 2 years, 7 months ago

Does this law apply in any way to current recipients of welfare, or only new recipients?

tomatogrower 2 years, 7 months ago

For a small, government who wants to cut spending, Brownback can sure find ways to spend money.

William Weissbeck 2 years, 7 months ago

If my calculator is functioning 32,000 receiving $42 million in benefits comes to $1,312 per person. Most likely they aren't all on drugs, but if they were, it would cost more to test them than the money given them. And what happens to the GOP's imaginary facts when it turns out that only 1 or 2 percent of these people test positive?

Anthony Mall 2 years, 7 months ago

A simple quick UA costs someone on diversion/probation 17-20 bucks... I see that as a small fee when some people receive 450 a week, work for cash, and donate plasma for another 50-70 a week... No reason to allow people to sit around like some have been for over a year collecting money while the rest of us work...

NotImpressed 2 years, 7 months ago

I spoke to a mid-level manager for a drug testing company on a flight recently about the costs. For you and I, it's about $1k a pop. For the government, it's about $600 a pop.

Anthony Mall 2 years, 7 months ago

Your source is mistaken... 25 3-panel strips can be purchased for under 45 dollars...

lionheart72661 2 years, 7 months ago

Unemployment due to layoff....NO! But the ones that just don't want to work then yes. I do pay for their benefits through my taxes.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 2 years, 7 months ago

The job of our government is to create as many criminals as possible...who don't work in "our" government. If everyone is a criminal, then the entire nation can be enslaved. "Our" government is beyond reproach. Well, most of it is. Whomever is in power is perfectly fine with creating laws that give it power. Big brother wants your 'nads and lives in their dirty hands. Equality is a myth and the groping hands of our leaders grasp at wages and goodwill FAR more than OTHER slackers.

Lawyers are bought. Legislators are bought, LAWS are bought. We are being enslaved. We are being sold. We are being beaten and traded in the new world order of corporate "people".


voevoda 2 years, 7 months ago

What are they going to do about the false positive results of these tests? Even ordinary food items, such as poppy seed bagels, can result in a positive drug test. So can over-the-counter cold remedies, ibuprofen,naproxen, sleep aids, even some vitamins. Many prescription drugs also give false positives, including the novocain dentists use.

Persons who are denied benefits or forced into mandatory drug rehabilitation programs because of false positives will have good reason to sue--and they'll win, too. So there will be those extra expenses as well.

progressive_thinker 2 years, 7 months ago

I am presuming that they will not take action based solely on the results of an EMIT screening test [which is what most of the on site products and initial lab tests are.] I would presume that they will confirm results by GC/MS confirmation, which are pretty much error free.

jafs 2 years, 7 months ago

So, how much will all of the testing cost? They list amounts for the drug programs and job training, but not the testing.

If they have to do two tests to confirm, that should be even more expensive, right?

progressive_thinker 2 years, 7 months ago

It gets pretty expensive pretty fast. If you "do it yourself" with onsite kits, under MMCAP contract, 5 panel kits [NIDA 5] go for about 3-5 dollars depending on configuration. That is only a small part of the total cost of ownership The price of the test is the cost that people selling drug testing kits [the real culprits behind all of this nonsense] will quote you. After that you have to figure in the cost for employees to collect samples, and if necessary, GC/MS confirmation [$30-40 per sample, but only for positive EMIT samples]. Oh, by the way, strict chain of custody/security of evidence rules apply to drug test samples. Unfortunately, the on site kits are subject to errors, on the EMIT test, primarily caused by misinterpretation of results. [Think about the impact of an employee assigned to drug testing being less than objective.]

It gets more expensive if you do the process through an independent contract lab. [This is the best way to avoid false positives.]

The bottom line is that we likely have a group of drug test vendors that are pushing for this legislation. They are telling the legislators how "quick, inexpensive, and accurate" their products are. They are nothing but a bunch of snake oil salesmen.

akt2 2 years, 7 months ago

Yesterday while I was shopping I overheard a couple of women talking. One was telling the other that she finally has an appointment at SRS regarding her application. Then she went on to say how much she would be getting a month. The conversation ended with them agreeing that would be more than she makes working. I think maybe a second job would be more appropriate. As for the false positives, they look at ranges. If you are blowing out the high end of a range, then chances are it's not a false positive. They can do a repeat test and draw blood the second time. Blood tests are highly accurate.

voevoda 2 years, 7 months ago

See, akt2, what the experts from the National Institutes of Health say about blood tests for drugs:

"Blood testing has limitations besides cost. Blood offers a smaller drug detection window than oral fluid or urine; most drugs are undetectable in blood after 12 hours (DuPont 1999). Trained personnel must obtain blood specimens. Concerns about blood-borne pathogens make routine blood testing impractical."

valgrlku 2 years, 7 months ago

I call b.s. on this story that so many of you "overhead" or "heard from a friend." Try some actual facts on TANF in Kansas: " TANF benefits are figured based on individual state guidelines and dependent on factors such as family size, earned and unearned income, and housing expenses. The Kansas TANF program is available to eligible residents for a maximum of 60 months (5 years). Benefits are figured with a formula that takes into account a familys size and income, in addition to the county in which the family resides. Cash assistance payments range from $224 to $497 per month." Recipients also have to have at least one child under 18 living at home and also have to earn less than $600 A YEAR to qualify.

Yeah, you're so correct. $497 a month is obviously way more than anyone would earn working. Try some facts, next time.

JayhawkFan1985 2 years, 7 months ago

Big brother from our big government is watching you...if they don't think you're one of us. Which you're not.

oldbaldguy 2 years, 7 months ago

I represent a lot of kids and parents in child of need of care cases. This is one more obstacle in their lives. There are provisions now to allow UAs when needed. Applying this state wide will be a complete waste of money.

Water 2 years, 7 months ago

Here, maybe this will help.

I've been an advocate of equal taxation for years but obviously the wealthy just keep cheating us out of taxes due.

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