Archive for Sunday, April 21, 2013

Opponents of drug testing for welfare benefits see it as hassling the poor; Brownback says it will help

April 21, 2013


— By next year, applicants for welfare and unemployment benefits who are suspected of taking illegal drugs will be tested, and if they fail the test they will lose their benefits.

Some groups see this as mean-spirited hassling of the poor, but Gov. Sam Brownback and supporters of the new law say it will help break the cycle of poverty because those who fail will be required to take substance abuse 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, is to start treating the problem."

Senate Vice President Jeff King, R-Independence, who shepherded the bill through the Legislature, described the measure as "family-friendly, family-focused."

On the welfare side, the law deals with those who receive cash assistance through the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF, which is federally funded and administered by the Kansas Department for Children and Families.

Those suspected of drug use and who fail the drug test will be required to complete programs for substance abuse and job skills paid for by the state. If they fail a second time, cash assistance is terminated for one year. If they fail a third time, they would no longer be eligible for benefits.

There are provisions in the law to steer payments through another person to ensure that a child's benefits are continued.

And starting July 1, a first-time offender convicted of a drug offense will be ineligible for cash assistance for five years.

Brownback, King and Kansas Department for Children and Families Secretary Phyllis Gilmore described the law as a way to help Kansans with drug problems get back on track and become employable.

But those with alcohol problems will not be affected by the law. People who lose their jobs through no fault of their own but use drugs could be denied benefits.

And the cost of drug testing, treatment and job-training programs will come from the TANF program.

"I think that is a fantastic use of public assistance dollars and will benefit all Kansans in the long run," King said.

Currently, 22,000 people receive TANF. In 2012, TANF expenditures totaled $42.1 million in Kansas, and the average payment was $282 per month.

But Holly Weatherford, program director with the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri, said the measure was unfair.

"We shouldn't require poor people to surrender their privacy so they can obtain enough money for the basic necessities of life," Weatherford said.

The proliferation of such bills across the nation is prompted by the false assumption that people receiving benefits are rampant users of illegal drugs, she said.

When a Florida law requiring drug testing of welfare recipients was blocked by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Circuit Judge Rosemary Barkett stated, "There is nothing inherent to the condition of being impoverished that supports the conclusion that there is a 'concrete danger' that impoverished individuals are prone to drug use."

But unlike the Kansas law, Florida's requires all welfare applicants take a drug test, instead of only those with a "reasonable suspicion" of drug use.

Weatherford said the ACLU will be watching closely as Kansas implements rules and regulations and starts to administer the new law.


Cindy Whiteley 5 years ago

What a crock! Opponents simply view any oversight as an unlawful challenge to their inalienable rights to buy drugs with money taxpayers have given to them.

chootspa 5 years ago

Awfully broad brush you got there. This law isn't as odious as the law in Florida that cost the taxpayers a bunch of money and didn't shrink the number of applicants, but the Kansas law still has the potential for abuse. As a non drug user and non welfare/unemployment recipient, I object to wasteful spending, and that includes unnecessary drug tests.

Mike1949 5 years ago

If they covered all recipients, then I agree. Of course there is the argument stated down below that anyone receiving state money should be subject to drug testing. Correct me, but if you hold a job in Kansas, all people are subject to drug testing, as all welfare recipients should also.

chootspa 5 years ago

I'll correct you then. You're wrong. Not all people with a job in Kansas are subject to drug testing, if by that you mean mandatory drug tests on hire or ongoing random testing. I've never once been given a drug test, and I've worked many jobs. None of them involve operating heavy machinery or handling medical equipment, so that may be the difference.

Stuart Evans 5 years ago

your paycheck doesn't get "dinged", your employer pays for unemployment insurance; when they have a lot of claims against their account, then their rate goes up. Sure, you might say that if people weren't unemployed, then we wouldn't need the unemployment insurance, and your paycheck could go up a little. But that still has nothing to do with drug use or abuse.

chootspa 5 years ago

A) You aren't eligible for unemployment if you're fired for doing drugs. B) Your paycheck gets "dinged" to pay for your own unemployment insurance, so if you expect you to be drug free to receive those benefits, be drug free. That's easy. C) The rate of drug abuse among unemployment/welfare recipients hasn't been found to be any higher than the general population. The price of drug testing ended up being more expensive than any actual taxpayer "savings" from denied/avoided benefits in states that have tried compulsory drug testing for all applicants. So it's a waste of money. (To be fair, this law falls short of compulsory testing for all applicants.)

I expect that if my taxpayer money is being taken to pay for welfare benefits, that it actually be paying for welfare benefits and not lining the pockets of some drug testing company. I expect if my taxpayer money is being used for drug counseling, that it be targeted towards people that actually want to quit and not some unfortunate dude that got stoned at a concert the weekend before he got laid off.

I don't have anything to hide, either. Doesn't mean I'm going to volunteer for strip searches.

Hooligan_016 5 years ago

@chootspa, your newsletter, subscribe, etc. etc.

Paul R Getto 5 years ago

The real crock is at Cedar Crest. Waste of time and money.

justme2 5 years ago

If Kansans who receive state benefits have to take a drug test in order to receive benefits, I believe Kansas politicians should also have to take a drug test in order to get paid. And any state employees. ANY Kansan who receives any money from the state. Fair's fair, right?

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

"Fair's fair, right?" - Maybe. But there might be a difference that you're overlooking, either willfully or not. The group currently being targeted is a group that is not currently providing any goods or services through their labor. You are proposing to expand the definition to include those who are currently providing goods and/or services through their labor. If your "Fair's fair" comment is to be taken to it's next logical step, then everyone getting any benefit should also be providing some form of labor that then produces goods and/or services in return for those benefits. Wouldn't that be "fair"?

msezdsit 5 years ago

Not necessarily. If the mitigating factor of the law is invoked because you are receiving benefits provided by tax dollars and therefore you will be tested because you are receiving benefits provided by tax dollars, then all who fall under the umbrella of " benefiting from tax dollars" should be drug tested. Otherwise, you have a free ticket for discrimination. Fair is fair.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

Some forms of discrimination are perfectly legal while some are not. If, for example, discrimination was based on race, religion, ethnicity, etc., that discrimination would be illegal. If, however, the discrimination was based upon those who provided goods and/or services vs. those who did not, that form of discrimination might be perfectly legal, though I'm certain that people could argue the wisdom of such a policy. But the point stands, that drawing an analogy between testing people who work and get some form of benefit from the state and people who do not work who also receive a benefit from the state is a false analogy. What might be fair for one might not necessarily be fair for the other.

Greg Cooper 5 years ago

Ignoring, again, the argument that the unworking poor still purchase goods and services and pay taxes on those things. The analogy stands on that issue alone.

Further argument, that the welfare recipient "produces nothing", is nil.

I kinda agree with your point, but still, it seems to me, that testing should be extended to anyone who lives, wholly or in part, on government dollars. Making a distinction between "producers" and "non-producers" allows us to become elitist at the highest level. It disavows that "non-producers" still may have children who must have a chance to become the vaunted "producers" and this law makes that much more difficult. It also creates the chance of children of the "non-producers" becoming wards sof the state, thereby costing even more in support, training and othere governmental costs.

It's just a bad idea, but one that, if adopted, should be extended to all who receive government funding.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

Purchasing goods and services with the money that was given to them is different than producing goods and services. That money, had it stayed in the hands of the original earner, would likely have been spent anyway. Your way has it being laundered through a government bureaucracy and then handed over to a non-worker. Other than the bureaucrat and the non-worker, no one else benefits from the transfer of funds away from the worker.

Andrew Dufour 5 years ago

So you're arguing that if you create something then you have more rights than those who do not. Further, even welfare recipients contribute to the common good. They purchase goods and services and pay taxes on what they buy, feeding right back into the system. Also, the social safety net is designed to help people when they're down and trying to get back on their feet. It is not full of drug using losers (as bore out by the other State's who have tried this) as much as conservatives like to believe. IF you want everyone who gets a benefit to "produce goods/services" then perhaps our government could creates jobs through government spending. If you think that welfare is a waste of money and would rather tie it to something valuable in your eyes then the government should STOP cutting spending and instead put the money toward infrastructure improvement etc.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

I'm arguing that it's a false analogy, comparing all people who receive some benefit from the government. Those who work, providing some form of goods and/or services are different than those that do not work, and not providing goods and/or services.

Steve Miller 5 years ago

Workin people are subject to random drug testing, it's about time you guys had to . THX browny.

Richard Brown 5 years ago

Substance abuse and jobs training for those on public assistance could prove to be positive programs. However, this certainly does not sound like small government. It sounds pretty darned socialist. Maybe Sam is coming around and will start implementing more programs designed to help people. That would certainly be a welcome change.

Chelsea Kapfer 5 years ago high can you get on that? that wouldnt even cover my bar tab some nights...

Phil Minkin 5 years ago

How about drug testing for gun purchases. We don't want drug crazed folks having dangerous weapons.

yourworstnightmare 5 years ago

More heavy-handed, big government tactics from Brownback and the legislature.

On the surface of it, preventing drug abuse by the indigent poor is a good thing.

However, given Brownback's record and ideology, one doesn't trust that this is his motive. One is more inclined to think that Brownback is using this as a means to deny access to the program, thus shrinking it and fitting into his narrative of smaller social services and less government spending.

In the end I suppose it is alright, if one doesn't mind stepping over drug-addicted, homeless, indigent sleeping on the street and dying on one's door step.

Sue Grosdidier 5 years ago

I have a drug test requirement for my job, I see nothing wrong with this and I am not a Brownback lover. However, I think this could be a step in the right direction. There must be services though if they are going to do this. It will take extra funding to follow through and we need to figure out where these people will live and how they will eat if there is no money and how their kids will survive. IF this is done correctly it could be a great thing for tax payers. The verdict is out yet for me.

bigdave 5 years ago

They just bring clean urine with them! They need to take hair, and you still can buy shampoo at the head shop!!

CalitoNY 4 years, 11 months ago

And why the hell should they? Seriously, dude?? Just don't do drugs if you want free money!! All we do is enable people to NOT go to work. I'm all about helping the down and out, poor people. But those folks are usually desperately trying to find work and have pride to not abuse the system.

Andrew Dufour 5 years ago

The problem with this program isn't the merits of catching a few drug users and not subsidizing their drug use, I think most agree with that. The problem is stigmatizing an entire group of people as drug users purely because they're unemployed. The vast majority of people on public assistance are not drug users (which is why this is a waste of money/time). The perception is that these people are lazy losers, but that theory has yet to be proven as true. If you want to "help" the people on welfare the government should do more to spur the economy by putting more money into the hands of those who are poor, either through mandatory living wages or direct public investment to create jobs.

Dec84 5 years ago

In order to serve in the Military, (those that put their lives on the line, if for no other reason than for us to enjoy the freedoms of being able to log onto a blog page, and air our weightless opinions), you have to submit to UAs. Those receiving assistance, should very well be

Irenaku 5 years ago

I have received public assistance in the past and am receiving housing assistance now. However, I do not use drugs, and although I consider myself fairly progressive and liberal, I support the requirement of passing a drug test to receive public assistance. Why? Because I have seen too many people who are on assistance abuse the system, and it makes people like me, who are working to get off of assistance, look very bad. If you have money for meth, crack, pot or RX pills that you are abusing, then you have money for rent and food. Period. If you are not doing drugs, then you have nothing to worry about. And as for the comment that this is an invasion of privacy, well I have news for you, you already lose some amount of privacy if you go on assistance. Your bank statements are checked regularly, any 401K, any savings accounts or 529 Plans for your kids must be reported, if you receive housing assistance then you have to let the LDCHA come into your home at least once a year to inspect the conditions (I personally do not mind this, as it holds landlords accountable), if you are in college or any kind of vocational training, you have to submit class schedules and financial aid statements, etc. It is how it ought to be. Just mho.

CalitoNY 4 years, 11 months ago

GO GIRL!! And I will help folks like you any day of the week!! Thank you for NOT abusing the system and using assistance as it should be. And thank you for identifying (from experience) the fact that many are using illegal substances and still whining about not getting enough free money. Funny.....I see people on gov assistance and they are sure smoking a ton of cigarettes and drinkin do they pay for that??!! I like your attitude Irenaku!!! Run for office!! (seriously).

dabbindan 5 years ago

i see big discriminatory problems with "those suspected of taking illegal drugs".

apply it uniformly (and that includes the legislature) or not at all. do they think the words "i never suspected so and so would be a druggie" have never been spoken? do they actually think their "suspicions" will really be a reliable guide of who to test and who not to??? idiots all.

Maddy Griffin 5 years ago

How is this supposed to save money? Only 2.8% of those tested in Florida were actually "dirty". Drug rehab and job training cost a lot more than what the averaqge welfare recipient gets. Where do the children of those people live in the meantime and what are they supposed to eat? Judging by some of Brownback's decisions in the last couple of years, maybe he should be first in line for testing.

Robert Greenwood 5 years ago

The Brownback administration can let us know in a year and again in another year how this program is doing. How many were tested, the results, the treatment, and how this experiment worked out. If we can believe the Browback statistics in the future we will learn just how cost effective this is and just how effective the program is at finding and treating applicants with drug problems.

Haiku_Cuckoo 5 years ago

So what's your solution? Keep giving them free money to enable their habit?

Tony Kisner 5 years ago

My pay check would stop if I flunked a drug test. And they do test and need zero suspicion just random testing. Seems like a choice to me I could smoke grass knowing I could loss my job, pretty clear.

Norm Jennings 5 years ago

"There are provisions in the law to steer payments through another person to ensure that a child's benefits are continued"

WELL! THAT ought to about solve any concerns for the children. As long as the kids have the "Benjamins" then ANY other affects on the kids should be minor and irrelevant?? Right??

Who could foresee this going wrong?

...and the Titanic was unsinkable, sorry I'm suffering from ignorance overload.

I'm a veteran of twenty years, and I'm drug-tested for work. I don't feel like that has anything remotely to do with the circumstance here. My former, and current employers OWE it to my current co-workers (and formerly my fellow soldiers) to make a reasonable effort to ensure a reasonably effective/ safe workplace (as safe as circumstances allow). It was, and remains advisable to ensure that my work is performed without any negative impact of drug use for the safety of the end user/ customer. What co-worker, workplace, or consumer is Gov Brownback keeping safe with this testing?

He doesn't even appear to have any merit to an assertion of saving money.

Is there something stopping the good Governor for offering drug rehabilitation to those on welfare without mandatory testing? If this were truly the ultimate goal?

Is there any data to back the presumption that a single stint of rehab is typically successful? Does the Gov truly care?

All of you Polly Anna excuse makers just keep it up. Brownback is certainly the kind of leader that needs yes-men (of any gender) and lots of them. Too many independent thinkers in the electorate, and the Koch brothers might have to find another stooge to run Kansas for them!

jafs 5 years ago

Well, there are the children.

Don't we have some obligation to ensure they're not being negatively affected by their parents' drug use?

oldexbeat 5 years ago

weed smoked stays in body 20-30 days -- meth -- what 3 days or so. Yup, this is a program against those that smoke weed. Period. Even though it is now legal in the next state over.

Guess that means Brownback isn't a libertarian. LOL. Clearly, making people suffer is part of his religion. Brownbackistan is the Hell Circle of Kansas. Does Sammy wear those weird metal things digging into his white soft legs and back ? Are there photographs of Brownback in a swimming suit ? No ? Hmmmm....

PS why do these rightwing nuts only care about the 2nd amendment ? I mean, the 1st, 4th, the 5th, etc., just don't matter to them. In fact, I suggest they don't understand them at all. Just holding a big gun -- that they understand. Keeping their churches out of my government, no....that is beyond them.

Matt Schwartz 5 years ago

If you are spending your money on smoking weed, then you should not be getting public assistance. Move to Colorado and see if they throw you any money.

CalitoNY 4 years, 11 months ago

Then move to the next State over......smoke legally and take their free money.

Bob_Keeshan 5 years ago

It is neither hassle nor a help.

It is a big, expensive government program that will cost millions in taxpayer dollars to achieve few if any results. It is literally more wasteful than a $600 hammer at the Pentagon.

Yay conservatives! Yay Tea Partiers!

skinny 5 years ago

I have to be tested to earn it. The government then takes it from me to give to the less fortunate. They too ought to be tested to get (My Money) it!!! Also please note, they do not have to take the drug test, nobody is making them!!

TongiJayhawk 5 years ago

I'm conflicted, on one hand I can see why people would want folks tested if they are receiving taxpayer money. But where do you draw the line? Farmers are getting my tax dollars with farm programs. How do we know they don't have a drug problem anymore then someone who needs welfare? How about other business owners who receive taxpayer money for one thing or another? Should they be tested? I don't want my taxpayer money going to feed a drug habits, just not sure this could be done in a just manner. If it's about protecting taxpayers, probably should be all or none.

Haiku_Cuckoo 5 years ago

You mean people are opposed to peeing in a cup in exchange for free money? Heck, I'd do that! Where do I sign up?

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

LOL @ all the people above willing to just let the government trash your 2nd Amendment rights. But "hands off" our 4th Amendment rights.


People on the extremes of both sides can make statements like these. As a person in the middle, one who believes reasonable compromises can be made while still maintaining our fundamental rights, searching for those reasonable compromises is the correct path.

Stuart Evans 5 years ago

so as long as those compromises don't overlap the things that you're into, then it's the right thing to do?

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

I don't know what things you're referring to. I can enjoy my freedom of speech without being allowed to yell fire in a crowded theater. (I'm not into yelling fire in crowded theaters). I may be barred from sacrificing my first born child, yet still enjoy my freedom of religion. (I'm not into sacrificing my first born child). And my Second and Fourth Amendment rights might be compromised, as judged by the Supreme Court, without me being denied the basic tenets of those rights. (I'm not into guns at all and if an officer politely asks to look inside my trunk during a routine traffic stop, I will smile and open the trunk for him. If that's what you mean by things I'm into).

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

As the person being asked to pee into a cup isn't being forced to, he can simply choose to walk away, where is the coercion? Ah, yes, the threat of lost benefits. But is welfare a "right" guaranteed to individuals, or is it something else, a benefit that may or may not be given?

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

As I've repeatedly said, it's all about compromises. The extent of the compromises are determined by the courts.

Suppose at the door of the welfare office is a sign saying no guns allowed. There is a metal detector and a guard to enforce that rule. Now to enter, are you compromising your Second Amendment rights? Maybe. If the legislature has passed such a law and the courts have said it's OK, then the compromise is fine. The same with peeing in a cup. If the legislature passes such a law and the courts approve, then it's a reasonable compromise.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

No one is forcing anyone to do anything.

I had a job once, with the state, (not this state), where I had to pee into a cup as a condition of my employment. I always had the option of simply saying no.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 12 months ago

I wonder what risk I presented to the state that their liability needed to be addressed. Sitting behind a desk usually isn't associated with risk. Paper cuts? (This was long enough ago that records were kept on paper, typed out with real typewriters. No computers back then)

jafs 5 years ago

I'm curious. What if the officer is gruff and rude instead of polite?

And, what if the penalty for not complying with a random warrantless search of your car is that you lose your driver's license and the right to drive? Is it all still ok with you?

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

Actually, if the cop is gruff and rude, I might tell him to get a warrant. But the problem with that is that he might tell me to stay put until he gets that warrant, so I might be inconvenienced. Then, I'll have to make a choice, how inconvenienced will I be. But it will be my choice.

As to losing my driver's license, the cop cannot do that. There is a process that must be followed in which case I will have the chance to defend my privilege of driving. (Notice that I did not use the word right when discussing driving. Now is welfare a right or a privilege? Suppose some state simply eliminated all welfare. Bad public policy, yes. But would they be doing something illegal? Unconstitutional?).

jafs 5 years ago

Fascinating. So your position on warrantless searches depends on manners.

Missing the point there - let's assume that the result of failing to comply with a random warrantless search of your car is the loss of your driving privileges. That would be analogous to losing one's welfare/unemployment benefits for failing to comply with random warrantless drug testing.

Is it still ok with you?

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

Yes. Unless there is a dead body or 50 pounds of pot in my trunk. Then I might still object to the warrantless search. Here's the deal, Jafs. When I sign up for the privilege of driving, I do so with the knowledge that incidents like this might happen. A policeman might stop me and ask for a breathalyzer in which case your scenario might actually become a reality. But I understood that when I got my driver's license and if I want to avoid that possibility, all I have to do is not drive.

But you keep avoiding my point. Is welfare a right, in that same category of say, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc., or is a privilege in a similar category of say driving, where certain restrictions might be placed on that privilege without violating someone's basic rights?

jafs 5 years ago

Ok - thanks for answering the question. You're much more comfortable with diluting our 4th amendment rights than I am - I think that the founders intended to protect citizens from this sort of thing.

I think vertigo is probably correct - even though it's not a constitutional right, it's a benefit based on certain criteria, and as such, it's discriminatory to disallow them if one won't comply with random warrantless searches.

The founders didn't specify that we had to be exercising constitutional rights in order to be free from unreasonable search and seizure - they simply said such searches are in and of themselves unconstitutional.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

I defer to the courts in defining what is an acceptable dilution of our rights and what is not. If you disagree with me, then you're disagreeing with the courts. You're certainly entitled to do so, but I would think that puts you on the outside of mainstream thought, not I.

Your use the word discriminatory sounds like it's interchangeable with illegal. It's clearly not. A bar MUST discriminate against someone who is under 21. A bar MUST discriminate when it discriminates against a person who is clearly intoxicated. Lots of discrimination is allowed and it is sometimes mandated by law. Discrimination based on race, religion, ethnicity, etc. is clearly wrong and clearly illegal. But that's not what we're talking about here, is it?

jafs 5 years ago

Yes, I disagree with the way our courts have diluted our 4th amendment protections, and think that those decisions aren't consistent with the intention of our founders. Why would you give up your ability to make an independent analysis?

I don't care who's "outside of mainstream thought" - is that intended to be some sort of insult? Mainstream thought is frequently wrong - if it gives you some sort of comfort or satisfaction to be in line with the mainstream, fine.

No, it's a different kind of discrimination. The question really is whether or not the searches are reasonable, if they're conducted without probable cause and warrants. I would establish a rather high bar for that sort of warrantless search, and prefer that probable cause and warrants precede a drug test. If the government can't convince a judge that there's sufficient cause to obtain a warrant, then they shouldn't be able to search people without one.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

No insult. It's just that you and others here try to frame the discussion in legal terms, using words like warrantless searches, probable cause, Fourth Amendment. So is this legal or not? Frankly, if the courts simply ruled this to be illegal, I'd say fine, no problem. But as it is, I think it's legal, so I think your arguments should be framed terms of the policy being ill advised, or it's not cost effective. But legal, I think you lose that argument not because I say so, but because the courts say so.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 12 months ago

I stand corrected. Well, maybe. It's been the case frequently that when one court makes a ruling, the legislature responds by narrowly addressing the court's objections. So if the Kansas law is written exactly like the Florida law, and the court's objections in Florida wasn't to some specific Florida statute, then maybe the Kansas law will also be stricken. Or maybe the Kansas legislature addressed the court's objection. Maybe.

jafs 4 years, 12 months ago

I never said it was illegal - please don't confuse me with others.

I've said that it's inconsistent with the intent of the founders in creating the 4th amendment.

A warrantless search is just that - a search that occurs without a warrant. Since getting a warrant requires probable cause demonstrated to a judge, it also occurs without probable cause being demonstrated.

I don't have to be a lawyer or judge to know that if you're stopped randomly and your car trunk is searched, that's a random warrantless search. In my view, such a search violates your 4th amendment rights, as those were intended by the founders.

So, it may be legal, but I think it's wrong, and goes against the very principles our nation was founded on, that citizens have the right to be protected against the vast power of the state.

Also, you should remember that courts like appeals courts are generally composed of an odd number of judges, and their decisions are often split, meaning that many decisions show only a very small majority in favor of the decision, with a large percentage opposed. So, for me, such decisions are hardly definitive answers to these questions. This is true all the way up to the SC, where we often have 5-4 decisions.

Who says the 5 are right, and the 4 wrong?

jhawkinsf 4 years, 12 months ago

Who says 5-4 decisions of the Supreme Court are right? Well, shall we ask former President Bush or shall we ask former President Gore?

Maybe some day the SC will make a sweeping 9-0 ruling on this issue, one way or the other. It won't matter that much to me, I'm in favor of this type of testing being legal but if I had to put a number on it, I'd say I'm 51-49 in favor. If people don't want to pee in a cup, then don't. You see, Jafs, that's the one thing you choose to ignore. The state isn't compelling anyone to do anything. Like with the breathalyzer and driving. I ALWAYS have the choice to simply say no.

And if the courts rule this illegal, oh, well.

Kyle Neuer 5 years ago

Looks like welfare for the drug testing labs to me. I wonder where their campaign contributions went?

georgeofwesternkansas 5 years ago

I have been in a random drug testing pool for about 15 years. Could be tested tomorrow or next month. It is all done at work, no one comes to my home or even talks about it, because no one that works here uses. They pay us way too much to do somthing stupid. I don't see what the big deal is, unless you are using ilegal drugs. It's what I have to do to get my paycheck

chootspa 5 years ago

The big deal is that you spend more taxpayer money to catch a very few users than you'd save by just paying the benefits. That means fewer people get helped with services, but more people get tested. Waste of taxpayer money. Meanwhile, people feel free to booze it up, since that doesn't get tested. This particular law isn't as wasteful, because they don't have to test everyone, but it has the potential to waste money if they're overly broad about what counts as "suspicion."

Providing drug treatment services is a laudable idea, but it turns out those services aren't really that effective for people that don't want the help. You know, the sort of people that get popped in drug screenings to collect their unemployment benefits.

Stuart Evans 5 years ago

then roll over and obey the government like a good dog, George; THEY know what is in YOUR best interest.

georgeofwesternkansas 4 years, 12 months ago

I picked my employer and am very happy with my choice. Don't get mad at me because you will now be subject to drug testing. Maybe you should change your life.

I do not feel using drugs is a wise choice. Sorry you do not feel the same, just be careful what you teach your children, or they will be a loser just like you.

Kyle Chandler 5 years ago

I think all poor people should be rounded up and put into poor camps. Be forced to compete for a few minimum wage jobs until they 'clean up'. Then maybe they'll know their place!

They are all just a bunch of druggies, the poor that is. Im so proud of Kansas and Sam Brownback for being the first state to stand up to 'loose' WOMEN, the ELDERLY, the DISABLED and now the drugged out POOR.

Can i Get an AMEN!

Bruce Bertsch 5 years ago

Lets look at the record. Florida did the same thing. Results...98% of recipients were clean. The cost per drug user amounted to around $168,000 of state funds spent. Fairness is not the issue, cost effectiveness is. This is a feel good plan that will accomplish absolutely nothing. Are there constitutional issues, you bet. But the main thing that should irritate the public is the complete waste of public funds, unless you own the testing contract, then you make out like a bandit.

Paul R Getto 5 years ago

NCLB works the same way. Govt creates need to measure, then sells the measurement work to their buddies through the bid process. Look at how much taxpayer moola Bush family and friends made in the EIC....educational industrial complex. At least NCLB was well intended. These failed "stick it to the poor" programs get passed around the states as ALEC hopes something will stick. 31% Sam is following the program. Give him time.

Kyle Chandler 5 years ago

Probably not 'running'

Just 'owning'

ezbreezy 5 years ago

If the goverment won't make it mandatory for random drug screens then they should give an extra benefit for people to volunteer to give a urine sample. Ex: a small bonus check at the end of the year for neg drug screens. or an extra $5 bucks a month... Then that narrows down the more suspicious people.

deec 5 years ago

Meanwhile I wonder how much money Colorado made in sales tax and hotel tax revenue over the last weekend? How much have they made from approving medical use of herb?

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

Just enough to pay for the three people shot during the 420 celebration. Or was it just enough to offset the lost productivity of those too stoned to go to work? It's one of those.


deec 5 years ago

Cute, but irrelevant. here's what's being proposed "Beginning January 1, 2014, a 15 percent excise tax will be imposed on recreational marijuana sales and marijuana products. The state’s 2.9 percent sales tax, and any local government sales taxes, will also be applied to all retail sales. Ten percent of the sales tax will be shared with local governments that have at least one recreational marijuana store within their boundaries. The 15 percent excise tax will also be applied to the wholesale sale or transfer of marijuana by the cultivation facility. Marijuana cultivation facilities are required to maintain records pertaining to the wholesale transfer of marijuana, to collect the tax and remit to the state. The first $40 million in excise tax revenue will be assigned to the public school capital construction assistance fund. Voters will have to approve the bill in November before the taxes can take effect"

Note that the first $40 million in excise tax revenue will be used to fund schools.

or this

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

Money for schools!!!! Fantastic!!!!

Wait, where have I heard that before? Oh, yeah, the lottery. The lottery has been around for a few decades now. Since schools must be swimming in money by now, how about we legalize pot here, tax it, and have the state use the money to build a cheetos factory.

Paul R Getto 5 years ago

Lottery money was never earmarked for education. Next?

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

Since the example given wasn't Kansas, I felt free to expand my remarks to another state as well. And lottery money absolutely was earmarked for education in other states, with little benefit to education. Given that, why believe that this bill will somehow have different results? Isn't there some cute saying about the definition of insanity being doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Kyle Chandler 5 years ago

Kansas isnt that smart, give us another century.......

sully97 5 years ago

People who remain willfully ignorant as they dance a jig toward their own demise are the biggest kind of stupid. What's happening in Kansas will affect us all for generations. It's time we stopped sacrificing the truth for the sake of being nice or a fear of offending. Whether we are talking about solving social problems through the erosion of public assistance, the creation of a new artistocracy by means of the most regressive tax code in the country, trying to make Kansas attractive for business and its workers globally competitive by destroying the academic integrity and funding of public education, or the rapid depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer to farm crops we don't need while denying climate change, these people are taking us over the cliff with them. They are doing it in the name of a militant, pro-business Christianity in which all whims and ideological impulses are justified in the name of the Lord. They choose to blame poor people without ever stopping to ask why public assistance often pays more than having a full time job in the first place. If the people of Kansas want to return to the Dark Ages they can certainly skip freely into feudalism, but none of us should be expected to assign an ounce of intelligence to such a choice--especially when they abhor the very intelligence that seeks to study and understand these problems. And that's exactly what it is: a choice. A person who chooses to shoot himself in the face after refusing to acknowledge the threat of a loaded chamber as he stares down the barrel amid the whaling objections of a gun safety expert carries with him, in my opinion, the more than justifiable label of "stupid." One must either stop him by force, or give him the widest of berths out of simple self-preservation.

sully97 5 years ago

Yes, people abuse the system. It is naive in the extreme to believe that the poor are the only one who might take advantage of that system though. I wonder how many people would have tested positive for cocaine at Goldman Sachs and the rest of their bailed out, banking bretheren? This might be a less unjust law if every child who eats a school lunch, every veteran on disability, every granparent on Medicare, every hadicapped person on Social Security, every business and corporation receiving a tax break, every farmer with a subsidy, every employee of local, state, and federal government, and every politician with public benefits were also tested. Nope. Only the poor.

The argument that those who abuse the system give honest brokers of that system a bad name is a farce because this has nothing to do with ending drug abuse. The poor have always been singled out. Increasing poverty and insecurity in life have never resulted in a drop of substance abuse and more stable lives. Quite the opposite in fact. This has to do with ending public assistance programs and even if every recipient tests negative, they will still be demonized for something else by the elite, God-fearing citizens of Brownbackistan. Having children perhaps. Or maybe eating meat paid for by public dollars, because poor people should be only ever eat canned goods. The good Jesus-quoting people of Kansas love to gargle this kind of propaganda. Makes them feel better than someone else I guess. After all, there is no cry for fairness in the new Kansas tax code that Republicans recently rammed through. You know, the one where business owners and "professionals" pay no income tax while their secretaries and janitors do? Nope. No cry of foul against a professional class that profits from the net sum of our public investments without having to contribute a dime of their income to keep it going. I don't see business owners teaching their employees to count and read and I don't see them building their own roads, laying their own pipes or hauling their own trash. Only the poor get trampled on and accused of cheating the system.

I'm afraid all this will do is increase our problems. Throwing hungry people and addicts off of public assistance will likely only drive more people to commit crime in order to get by, and all that money we think we're saving from public assistance will seem like a pittance compared to the fiscal and social costs of the higher incarceration rates we're going to see. And if we're lucky, that will be the worst of it. No one broke into my home last night to steal food and I didn't hear gunshots in my neighborhood. But I do wonder how long that will last if we keep pushing people into impossible situations.

Way to go Kansas. You're brilliant.

Janella Williams 5 years ago

Very well said. I wish more people would read your post.

progressive_thinker 5 years ago

Agreed, good post. What many folks do not seem to grasp is that it is the pharmaceutical companies that make drug testing kits and supplies for drug testing labs, and that the big pharmaceutical companies make huge campaign contributions to politicians like Brownback.

The new Kansas law, like other "war on drugs" laws that required drug testing of large groups of individuals [example: Workplace Drug Testing Act] are nothing but a boondoggle for big pharmaceutical companies. The Workplace Drug Testing Act and the Florida welfare recipient drug testing laws were both pieces of legislation drafted by ALEC, surprise surprise.

There is no motive in this bill to do anything except for big pharma to collect a bigger welfare check from the taxpayers.

oldexbeat 4 years, 12 months ago

great point about goldman sachs -- I know first hand that the massive black Monday stock market collapse in 1987 was directdly related to hugh parties on Sunday night in NYC. A bunch of jr stock fund managers, at a few firms, couldn't thinik on that Oct. Monday and their computers (first time they all had PCs) started selling and selling and -- the market lost 50 percent that day and was closed for a week. Google it. And it would seem that drug tests on Wall Street would have been a great idea. (if you believe in non-legal drugs for adults).

Bug 5 years ago

Great, test welfare recipients. I have to drug test for my employer too and my employer pays for the test. Who pays for the testing of welfare recipients and the administration of that program? Oh payers do. Fantastic.

bd 5 years ago

Luvin every minute of it!!!!! :)

Robert Greenwood 5 years ago

"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, is to start treating the problem."

Testing could start in January, 2014. We will see after a year and after a second year if this experiment is successful after spending over 1 MILLION DOLLARS in this effort of which about 1/4 million is for new staff, 1/4 million for training, 1/2 million for computer programing at est $90 per hour. Testing estimated to cost $50 per test. No increase in treatment costs expected though 3 months treatment will cost. We just don't know how much or how successful treatment will be. And savings are expected in 2015 due to recipients temporarily or permanently ineligible due to positive tests or criminal drug convictions. - It remains to be seen how successful the Gov and the legislature will be in this wildcating adventure. Sort of like drilling for oil and we will see how many dry holes the program comes up with. The wildcat investment is well over 1 MILLION DOLLARS in FY2014 less in future years. Lets find out how "horrific" a problem we have in the TANF program and how success the Gov is in "treating the problem." Stay tuned in 2015 for the results.

jafs 4 years, 12 months ago


Your apathy is staggering to me.

It's because of a combination of the fact that those in power often tend to abuse it, and that many, like you, are apathetic and defer to authority too much, that our rights have been watered down so much.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 12 months ago

No. You're confusing "rights" with "entitlements". Read my posts and you will see I'm a strong defender of our rights of speech, religion, press, etc. Read my posts and you will see I strongly believe in equal rights. I vigorously defend things like gay rights. But welfare, no, I don't defend your rights to welfare specifically because it's not a right at all. Entitlements are things that may be given or not, at the discretion of the people.

No, I don't believe you're entitled to be picked up every time you stumble and that is especially true if you behave in such ways as the fall was of your own doing. We may choose to do it as a matter of good policy. Or we may choose not to. It is our choice, just as the recipient may choose to jump though whatever hoops are deemed appropriate. We all have choices.

And when I do defer, it's to the Constitution. But even then, there is a process to change it, when necessary. When I turned 18, I was prevented from voting. At that time, 18 year olds could not vote legally. There came a time when a change was deemed appropriate. By the time you turned 18, you could vote. That's the way it should be done. If you want change, then do it. If you want to change welfare from an entitlement into a right, then do so. Of course, that will require an awful lot of work on your part and on the part of other like minded individuals. Or are you too apathetic to do the hard work necessary?

jhawkinsf 4 years, 12 months ago

That doesn't sound right to me. Are you saying that if the Feds decide to give out some entitlement that each and every state must set up a bureaucracy to then hand out that entitlement? Isn't it within the rights of each state to simply say no thank you? And what if the bureaucracy has dual responsibilities, overseeing some Federal entitlement and some state entitlement. Couldn't the state impose rules for the state entitlement that is different than Federal rules? What if it's matching funds, where an entitlement is partially state money and partially Federal money? Again, can't the state impose rules on that part which is the state's contribution?

jhawkinsf 4 years, 12 months ago

In your link, under the heading of "State Implementations" is one sentence only. It states "states have large amounts of latitude in how they implement TANF programs". Thank you for making my point for me.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 12 months ago

Legal decisions by courts sometimes hinge on a single word. Put in "may" instead of "shall" and a law is that was unconstitutional suddenly goes the other way. Is the Kansas law exactly the same as Florida, word for word? And of course, there's the possibility that a court here will simply rule differently than a Florida court. That happens all the time, with the Supreme Court then voicing it's opinion.

Your interpretation above, is your interpretation? Despite your link that seems to give wide latitude to the states. If you were a legislator involved in the writing of this legislation or a Supreme Court Justice, I might give great weight to your interpretation. Assuming you're not, you are equally entitled to your opinion as I am to mine.

And just for the record, the amount of money a person makes is of no concern to me. I believe every person should be treated equally. The next time I find myself standing in the welfare line, asked to provide a sample, I'll do just that. Or politely decline. It will be my choice. As it is those on the welfare line now.

As I've stated before, compromises to all our rights are permissible as long as they are reasonable. If the courts rule this law to be reasonable, fine. If they don't, that's fine as well.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 12 months ago

Let me ask you something, vertigo. When you go to an airport and are told you must remove your shoes, belt, hat, etc., then your screened electronically, then maybe pat down, your possessions like computers and keys are put on trays and screened, is this all a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights? If yes, is it all mitigated by the simple fact that you can refuse and walk away?

Air travel takes a certain amount of wealth. Perhaps not enough to say that only the wealthy fly, but enough to say that the wealthy would be disproportionately impacted. Is it discriminatory?

Or is this an example of the type of compromise I've been discussing?

jhawkinsf 4 years, 12 months ago

"You are aware that airports are private entities, right?" - Actually, that's wrong. I simply googled "who owns airports" where it's clear that most airports are owned by cities or counties, or other authorized government entities. And the TSA is mandated by the government.

So if the state sub-contracts out the screening, you'll drop all your objections?

Yes, I do miss the days when I could board a plane without taking off my shoes while the guy sitting beside me carries on some box cutters.

Satirical 4 years, 12 months ago

I can’t believe we hassle the poor and violate their 4th Amendment rights by requiring them to give personal information, such as how much money they have in their bank account! You radical republicans claim that unreasonable search and invasion of privacy is just to determine eligibility for the program, but we liberals know it is just to shame the poor and a way to deny them benefits.

Mandatory drug testing, even if it can’t be used to prosecute, shouldn’t be used as a basis to determine eligibility, just like it shouldn’t be a basis to refuse to hire a federal or state employee. In both cases it would be an unreasonable search, an invasion of privacy, and a violation of someone’s 4th Amendment rights!

However, when purchasing a gun, requiring a background check and drug testing is completely reasonable, wouldn’t be humiliating or an invasion of privacy, and in no way violates the 4th Amendment . In that case, the ends justify the means.

I don't understand why you radical republicans can't make these clear distinctions! The 4th Amendment is clear!

bunnyhawk 4 years, 12 months ago

The TAF program is Temporary Assistance for FAMILIES. Very, very adults qualify for TAF assistance without having at least once child in the household. Any efforts to restrict TAF payments to qualified FAMILIES for any reason will have an adverse affect on the children in the household. Sam;s plan is fine tooled to make children pay for their parents' sins. This is what pro-life looks like in the formerly great State of Kansas.

With the 'suspected' crap.........parents will be vulnerable to the whims of the TAF worker. If the worker doesn't like them........if the worker's in a bad mood..........and so on.

The only drug that is readily detected by UAs alone is marijuana. Very little marijuana will yield a positive result. Meth, the drug we are the most concerned about, only shows up on the UA if the person is high at the time or has recently used. Not difficult to fudge on this one.,

If reducing drug use in Kansas were the goal...........why would our illustrious Governor and Legislature chose this approach over funding more drug and alcohol treatment programs? And why leave alcohol out of the requirement? There are many more Kansas children at risk because of the misuse of alcohol than there are from the misuse of any illegal drugs. What about prescription drugs? It's bad policy. The policy will put children in danger of removal from their homes. The policy will cause drug users to avoid TAF benefits and deprive their children of a much needed social safety net.

Once again, I have to ask our "Christian' Kansas do you square this crap with the Golden Rule.............I suspect the Kansas GOP has long ago torn that page out of their Bibles!! Matthew 7:12. Read it!

Kirk Larson 4 years, 12 months ago

Everyone I've ever known who did drugs was an honest, hard working person. That's how they could afford the drugs. Are they going to test for nicotine and alcohol? Of course not.

charles murtagh 4 years, 12 months ago

Republicans only believe in government regulations when it suits their own selfish purposes.

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