Archive for Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Gov. Brownback signs Kansas drug test law for aid recipients

April 16, 2013


TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Gov. Sam Brownback said Tuesday that a new law requiring applicants for a welfare program to submit to drug testing was a step toward ending a scourge on the state and break the cycle of poverty.

The Republican governor signed the bill during Statehouse ceremony, saying that the state had an obligation to help residents break their addictions and improve their lives through treatment and jobs training.

"Drug addiction is a scourge in Kansas. This is a horrific thing that hits so many people," Brownback said. "What this effort is about is an attempt to get ahead of it. And instead of ignoring the problem to start treating the problem."

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 Tuesday that the measure strikes a balance between being good stewards with public resources while trying to help people suffering from substance abuse kick their habits and lead productive lives. He said approximately 8 percent of those seeking TANF funds are identified by screening as potentially using drugs.

"This bill makes sure that we have drug treatment provided for anyone who is using public assistance who is identified with a substance abuse problem," said King, an Independence Republican. "This bill is not only family friendly but family focused. We make sure that the children that need this assistance the most will get it."

The TANF program provided about $42 million in benefits for about 32,000 Kansas adults and children during fiscal 2012, which ended in June. King said no TANF assistance to children would be suspended under the bill, which provides for other family members or third parties to receive the funds if the applicant fails a drug test.

The bill also covers residents who fail a pre-employment drug screening from being eligible for unemployment benefits. Applicants must submit to drug screening and if they test positive they would have to complete a treatment program and job skills training. Failure to complete treatment or jobs training would disqualify applicants from receiving unemployment benefits.


Cait McKnelly 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm curious. Just WHO determines there is "reasonable suspicion"? What's the criteria for that "reasonable suspicion"? The article says that members of the legislature are included in the law. Under what circumstances? When they're applying for TANF? (LOL!!!) What are the penalties if a legislator tests dirty? They can't get an unemployment check? (Drag out the lollerskates again.)
So they are going to drug test EVERYBODY who applies for TANF or UI benefits? Doesn't an employee actually cover part of the financial burden for unemployment insurance? So the state is going to make someone pee in a cup to collect their own insurance? Who is going to pay for the testing? The state? That didn't exactly work out well for Florida financially.
This law has more holes than a block of Swiss cheese.

ksjayhawk74 4 years, 11 months ago

Yes, the "reasonable suspicion" bit is hilarious. They threw that in to make it look like politicians would be will to subject themselves to the same scrutiny that they are placing on people trying to receive benefits. In actuality they added the "reasonable suspicion", so that no politicians could actually be tested. It would only really be fair if all State politicians were going to get tested.

I have a feeling there would be a few that wouldn't pass. I'm guessing that a few of them have a favorite drug that rhymes with "Koch". But don't worry, they will never get tested.

Daniel Kennamore 4 years, 11 months ago

"What's the criteria for that "reasonable suspicion"?"

Pretty sure it's anyone who is N.C.P. (Non-Caucasian Poor).

fan4kufootball 4 years, 11 months ago

The employee does NOT cover part of the burden for unemployemnt insurance.

overthemoon 4 years, 11 months ago

What a waste of money. Elsewhere laws like this have proven to be expensive and worthless. Does Brownback think Kansans are unaware of what's happening in other GOP dominated states? And the complete failure of hard line austerity and unfair tax laws coupled with over zealous social engineering?

JayhawkFan1985 4 years, 11 months ago

Great idea, but it doesn't go far enough. All business owners who had their income taxes eliminated last year should get drug tests too. Drug addiction is a scourge that doesn't affect only those at the bottom of the economic ladder. The taxes they used to pay is a subsidy just like TANF so as stewards of public monies... While we are at it, why not also test all parents whose kids are enrolled at public schools and all students enrolled at state universities? Why not all school teachers and all state employees? Maybe everyone who wants a drivers license, a conceal carry permit or hunting license should take drug tests...

This is nothing more than the GOP waging war on people they believe don't vote republican. The GOP are haters.

We are Brownbackward in Kansas...

Jean1183 4 years, 11 months ago

I work for a school district, have a driver's license, a conceal carry permit, and a hunting license. Test away!

justoneperson 4 years, 11 months ago

You seem to miss the point about civil liberties?

Anyway, the Florida law has not only been more costly due to the extremely low number of failed tests vs the cost of paying for testing, a Federal Appeals Court just upheld the ban on the program. The state paid out for testing that came up empty, and is now paying out for court costs. Not exactly fiscally responsible.

For a cite, here's fox news!

Stuart Evans 4 years, 11 months ago

Sam Brownback is a scourge on the state. How about we end the government for sale bit, and I would bet that the economy would turn around pretty quickly.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

Unless of course, that minority you speak of is really the majority in which case the majority you speak of is really the minority.

That said, I'd sure like to see more people voting. Maybe we could get Taco Bell to give a free taco to each voter. They do stuff like that a basketball games if the home team scores 100 points. Yea, corporate sponsorship of elections. What could go wrong.

Shane Garrett 4 years, 11 months ago

Well I have seen post of people asking just for this bill. Problem is they are only going to catch pot smokers. As hard core drugs leave the system within a couple of days.

Stuart Evans 4 years, 11 months ago

The people asking for this bill are being snowed into believing that this is a widespread problem, and that stoners are just leaching every spare dime from the system. It's just not reality, but it makes for great hellfire/brimstone fodder.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 11 months ago

I hate to tell ya, Wally, but they aren't even going to "catch pot smokers". When this was attempted in Florida, the failure rate was only a smidge over 2% (see the Miami Herald article above). People tried to say that mandatory drug testing kept drug users from even applying and that was why the rate was so low but Florida's DFS disputes this and said their was no impact on the number of applicants.
Bottom line, people who don't even have the money to eat aren't going to spend what little they do have on drugs.
The REAL irony here is that the state will put out thousands of dollars just to keep a handful of people from getting $880/month.

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

I can't help but notice that this article, like the previous one, provides the costs of providing drug programs and job training, but not the costs of doing the testing.

It would be better journalism to provide those as well.

NotImpressed 4 years, 11 months ago

Why don't they also test all of the folks that get government assistance via tax breaks if they are going to do this? Because the big bucks might stop flowing into their campaign coffers?

Charlie Dominguez 4 years, 11 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Bike_lover 4 years, 11 months ago

Unemployment isn't welfare. Employers pay into an unemployment fund, money they could be paying their employees with. I'm not saying it's "earned" but it's not welfare. If someone loses their job and qualifies for unemployment I don't see why failing a drug test should disqualify them.

The whole thing is designed to discourage people from applying for benefits. If someone has lost their job or has dependent children and needs benefits I think it's heartless to threaten them with a drug test to make them not apply. Next thing you know they'll threaten to take their kids away.

Why did people in Kansas get so mean and uncaring for oneanother?

Kate Rogge 4 years, 11 months ago

Prosperity Jesus says God wants Kansans to smite the poorest and the weakest among us. We got that 'love thy neighbor' thing all wrong.

greatgatsby 4 years, 11 months ago

I would love to say that I could fully support this. I do think that people applying for any sort welfare should have to be held to certain standards, ie being clean of drugs, actively searching for work, ect. However, the price is just so high per person. At some point a benefit/cost ratio must be done and if that number is less than 1 it's just not worth it. I think this might be the case here.

Alceste 4 years, 11 months ago

Awww....gee whiz......Muddy Waters addressed this matter 30+ years ago. Heed the symptom:

Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

Sam ALEC Brownback government is the epitome of BIG GOVERNMENT and reckless spending.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 11 months ago

Better yet, get elected to the legislature. Then you can be a gynecologist. ;P

JohnBrown 4 years, 11 months ago

The American Taliban at it again.


jafs 4 years, 11 months ago


I seem to have seen higher numbers elsewhere - I wonder why. Also, the need for double testing to eliminate false positives.

NotImpressed 4 years, 11 months ago

Try around $600 a pop. This info was from a senior manager at a drug testing company

Norm Jennings 4 years, 11 months ago

Dear Governor Brownback, Which of your Christian principles assured you that the innocent children of drug users will not suffer, and that you will bear no responsibility for your judgmental moral myopia??

God forgive you, but these kids have nothing to say about the choices their parents make, but they will most certainly suffer from the denial of welfare benefits from this plan.

Christianity isn't just about a moral compass to determine (or mandate) right or is also about caring for the "least of these."

When did you turn away Jesus when he was hungry and without? Just now with the stroke of your pen Governor, just now.

Paul R Getto 4 years, 11 months ago

Sam has a different jesus. Read up on Doug Coe, his mentor. Businesspersonjesus is their hero.

Charlie Dominguez 4 years, 11 months ago

Amen, Amen I say to You. Beware of the false prophet. And shame to all those who follow the governor claiming its their job to enforce such policies.

Larry Sturm 4 years, 11 months ago

Unemplotment is insurance payed by employers so are they going to do away with that too.

mypointis 4 years, 11 months ago

How is the Department of Labor going to know if someone fails a pre-employment drug test? The applicant can simply fail to report they had an interview. Unless the employer reports directly to them that the applicant failed? And who is going to tell the prospective employer they are receiving benefits. I think someone should have thought through this entire process. Way too many pitfalls and way too much funding to be spent.

Michael LoBurgio 4 years, 11 months ago

Suspicious behavior! Advance of drug testing bill raises questions about Kansas lawmakers

Qualifying suspicions include, but are not limited to, a questionable demeanor, missed meetings, police records or failing a drug test with a potential employer. If that’s the case, there’s little time to waste before we start collecting urine samples from members of the Kansas Legislature.

For example, this session legislators considered a tax exemption that would benefit for-profit health clubs, fighting for their lives against non-profit YMCAs and community-sponsored recreation centers; a sustained effort to undo an 80-year-old Kansas law protecting Kansas family-owned farms, removing local control from decisions about out-of-state operations; a bill that would authorize the quarantine of those with HIV; a firearms protection law that makes it a crime for federal agents to venture into Kansas to enforce federal gun laws; and a budget that could cut the state income tax further, breaking a promise to Kansans to sunset a portion of the sales tax, raids other state agency funds and undoubtedly would lead to property tax increases on farmers and households - who will carry the burden thanks to the long line of businesses that will enjoy property, income and sales tax breaks.

There’s not much a poor single mother could do to create a more questionable demeanor than the 2013 Legislature.

And in what should not be a surprise to anyone, the one redeeming quality of this bill – a component to provide treatment for those who fail state-required drug testing – has been stricken from the legislation.

Senate Vice President Jeff King, R-Independence, said when he introduced the bill that it wasn’t punitive but instead would help drug-addicted Kansans receive the help they need. By striking the one component that could have both helped Kansans and reduced the number of potential drug users on public assistance, the legislation is now purely punitive.

In all, the legislation is expected to save the state $1.1 million by booting drug users off welfare, but it also is expected to cost nearly the same amount in the first year – followed by $180,000 in annual savings to Kansans.

Legislators had an opportunity to find some balance on this idea. They could’ve satisfied those who fear state dollars are being used to feed drug addiction while simultaneously helping drug users become self-sustaining taxpayers. Instead, lawmakers again chose to expand state government with a punitive law – all to save roughly .0000125 percent of the entire state budget.

As of Wednesday, the bill was awaiting the signature of the governor, who has not publicly shared his thoughts on the legislation.

By Jason Probst/Hutchinson News editorial board

Standing_on_my_own_2_feet 4 years, 11 months ago

I support it 100% and I think Gov Brownback is doing a very good job. I'll be voting for him again.

I have to pass random drug tests for my employment. Why shouldn't people that receive $$$ from the govt (my tax $$$) be held to some sort of similar standard? Especially those that are on govt assistance long term!

Go Gov!!!

myopinion 4 years, 11 months ago

Umm, this is already being done. It is a policy now, and he is just re-naming it a law. so he can take some credit for it.

Kyle Chandler 4 years, 11 months ago

^ Standing can go ahead and foot the bout this 2 feet, just cut a check for your own personal testing amount directly to the Koch Bros.

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