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Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Capitol Report: Drug testing for state benefits; Landwehr lands state job; Brownback changes tune on EITC

January 20, 2013

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Speaker backs drug testing for benefits

House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, said he supports legislation that would require Kansans receiving welfare or unemployment benefits to pass drug tests or lose their assistance.

Merrick said when he goes to the store, it "blows my mind," when he said he sees people who receive state benefits buying cigarettes and alcohol. "I'm not saying everybody does that. But some people do and we need to tighten it down," he said.

Landwehr working for agency she criticized

The Wichita Eagle reports that former state Rep. Brenda Landwehr, a Republican from Wichita who was defeated in the November general election, is now working for the Department of Children and Families, formerly known as the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.

During her 18 years in the Legislature, Landwehr was a frequent critic of SRS.

The Eagle reports Landwehr will make $26.45 an hour, or about $27,000 per year, working as a part-time senior policy analyst in the Wichita regional office of DCF, according to DCF spokeswoman Angela de Rocha.

DCF has also hired another Wichita Republican, Kenya Cox, who ran an unsuccessful campaign against state Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, a Democrat. Cox is the new assistant regional director for community relations, earning $50,000 per year. Neither Landwehr's nor Cox's job was advertised to the public because both are unclassified positions that don't have to be, de Rocha said.

Brownback changes tune on EITC

Last year, Gov. Sam Brownback's package of proposed income tax cuts included getting rid of the state version of the Earned Income Tax Credit which is aimed at helping the working poor. His administration claimed there was widespread fraud in the EITC. Brownback's Budget Director Steve Anderson had said, "We have no way of making sure, for example, that a single mother is spending that on needs for her children."

But social service advocates fought hard to keep the EITC in place.

This year, Brownback is pushing for more tax income tax cuts, but his plan doesn't touch the EITC. At a budget briefing with reporters, Kansas Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan said that shows the governor's compassion for low-income Kansans.

The tax cuts that Brownback signed into law last year did do away with several credits that helped needy Kansans. These included the food sales tax rebate, the homestead refund for renters and child care credit.

All systems go with South Lawrence Trafficway

After a Senate Transportation Committee meeting last week, a Kansas Department of Transportation official said all systems are go with the South Lawrence Trafficway.

"We are acquiring right of way as we speak and finishing the final design work," said Jerry Younger, deputy secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation.

The contract will be awarded this fall and work will probably start toward the end of the year, Younger said.

The road will connect Interstate 70 west of Lawrence with Kansas Highway 10 east of Lawrence.

Hearing set on concealed-carry changes

A hearing will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday before the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee on the first of what is expected to be several bills expanding the concealed carrying of guns.

Senate Bill 21 would make several changes to the state's concealed carry law, including allowing someone from out-of-state with a concealed-carry permit to be allowed to carry a handgun in Kansas.

Quote of the week:

"You can't create a fake budget emergency by slashing taxes for your cronies and then cry poverty when it comes time to fund vital services."

— Lisa Ochs, president of the American Federation of Teachers-Kansas, during a "People's State of the State" rally.

What's next:

Tuesday

3:30 p.m.: hearings on bills and proposed constitutional amendments to allow the governor to appoint appellate judges with Senate confirmation, and to allow partisan elections of appellate judges. House Judiciary Committee, Room 112-N.

Wednesday

1:30 p.m.: Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach will speak to the House Elections Committee, Room 281-N.

1:30 p.m.: Overview of Kansas Board of Regents and public school education before joint meeting of House and Senate education committees, Room 112-N.

Thursday

9 a.m.: Overview of Kansas Turnpike Authority with Michael Johnston, president and chief executive officer of the authority. House Appropriations Committee, 112-N.

Comments

KS 1 year, 11 months ago

It's about time on the drug testing. I say go for it.

oldexbeat 1 year, 11 months ago

yup, Kansas wants none of that 4th and 5th amendment stuff -- no we would rather spend 40 dollars a week on illegal testing. Hey, if it includes the Legislature for non-prescribed pills and morning alcohol -- I really want them sober to vote and get paid my state tax money -- OK. Yup, we test EVERYONE that receives money from the state. Should be interesting.

PS do the welfare people that buy those legal cigarettes have signs on them ? Or something ? I mean do they just look poor?

deec 1 year, 11 months ago

Drug testing recipient laws are part of Brownie's jobs program for lawyers. Florida, Michigan and Ohio testing laws have all been found unconstitutional.

Paul Hahn 1 year, 11 months ago

Keep in mind: Drug testing hurts the children of addicted parents. Innocent children will go without food and shelter because their addicted parents couldn't pass a urine analysis. Those kids didn't choose their parents, so we have to ask ourselves if we are OK with them suffering for the mistakes of their parents when we require drug testing.

avarom 1 year, 11 months ago

They should drug test all government employees especially the ones in the Big K House.....some of the decisions they're making, they must be on something!!

avarom 1 year, 11 months ago

Also, in the Big K House they should give every employee...Govenor, District Attorney, Senator, Legislator, Page, Administrator a time card, so they can punch in and out for their lunches....They are way too long... and really...it would help their Diet tremendously...I heard that new snack bar is a Huge Temptation!!

Also, the time cards would be a automatically way of tracking the voting on bills , then it could be shared with the public right away....some don't always show up for the voting process on a constant basis...I only know of One Legislator that has perfect 100% Attendance for voting in the Big K House and that is Ramon Gonzalez...Big Props to that Person... show who's really interested in Representing his Constituents!!

avarom 1 year, 11 months ago

They should make them all take blood, hair or blow into the bottle....some of them could fill my car with all the gas and alcohol that comes out....Unbelieveable...and....Pathetic!

WilburM 1 year, 11 months ago

There are a ton of studies that show that this is not cost effective at all. It creates lots of costs for the government and for all applicants, and almost no one is "caught." But we use a lot of resources and discourage would-be recipients from applying. One (dumb) way to reduce demand.

appleaday 1 year, 11 months ago

In Florida, they learned that only 2% of people receiving government assistance tested positive for drugs, far lower than the rate in the general population and at a huge expense to taxpayers.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2011/09/06/2-of-welfare-recipients-fail-drug-tests-in-florida/

Ron Holzwarth 1 year, 11 months ago

When was the last time a huge expense to the taxpayers changed a public policy?

chootspa 1 year, 11 months ago

So you're advocating for less efficient government spending?

Ron Holzwarth 1 year, 11 months ago

You misunderstood my point 100%, I was saying that cost doesn't seem to sway the lawmakers at all.

chootspa 1 year, 11 months ago

And when I re-read it that was exactly what you were saying. I don't know how I read it the other way.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 11 months ago

And the cost of administering these tests that are 98% negative is considerably more than the savings in benefits that were cancelled to the very few who did test positive.

As usual, this has nothing to do with good public policy, and everything to do with the petty, punitive approach that the far right has to every policy they put forward.

Josh Brumm 1 year, 11 months ago

The right is terrified that there might be someone somewhere getting government assistance that doesn't deserve it, and they will spare no expense to find them and kick them out.

John Hamm 1 year, 11 months ago

That was a Four month "test" and 40 out of 4000 cancelled without taking them. There's a good probability they had a reason for doing so.

deec 1 year, 11 months ago

Or they could have got jobs. Or they moved away. Or dad finally started paying the child support...

Your assumption is pure speculation, but if true, shows that a whole 1% of potential recipients used drugs.

question4u 1 year, 11 months ago

"Secretary Nick Jordan said that shows the governor's compassion for low-income Kansans."

It's great to start the day with a laugh! Thanks for printing that.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 11 months ago

Being a drug addict or an alcoholic is expensive-- you can't afford it if you're on welfare, which takes a bit of effort to maintain, and that effort doesn't pay well enough to afford an addiction to some chemical substance.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

Wouldn't it be more realistic to characterize drug addicts as people who sell drugs a little, steal a little, work under the table a little, collect government benefits a little?

Wouldn't it be more realistic to characterize their housing situation as living with friends and/or relatives a little, couch surf a little, spend some time in jails and shelters, live in government subsidized housing a little, whether that's in their name or with another who is the person on the lease?

Few would say that a drug addict or alcoholic gets enough government benefits to support their habit and maintain their housing. Few would suggest that drug addicts and/or alcoholics get zero government benefits. The question is this, what percentage of those government benefits are helping them and what part are enabling them?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 11 months ago

Government benefits are very meager to begin with, and not easily maintained even for those who are following all the rules.

Do addicts surf the margins of society, occasionally living with and/or off of other people living on the margins of society, which describes pretty much everyone on public assistance? Sure. But spending a whole lot of money to administer shotgun tests is clearly intended to be punitive to poor people in general, not just the relatively small number who might have substance abuse problems.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

See how much we can agree, Bozo. Yes, a shotgun approach may not be cost effective. Then again, enabling people in their self destructive life cycle isn't the desired result of government benefits either. I guess we'll have to find some muddled middle ground where the poor can get enough aid to assist them on the road to self sustainability while simultaneously not enabling them to self destruct.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

Maybe not. But your post suggestive that drug addicts and alcoholics are living exclusively off welfare isn't either. And I know that if we give drug addicts and alcoholics food and shelter, that just frees up their meager other resources to spend on their self destructive habits. It's generally accepted within the recovery industry that a person must hit their bottom before recovery can begin. If it's you and I who are preventing them from hitting that bottom, we're doing them no favors at all. (Be clear, my comments in this little tangent aren't about the poor in general, but is about that subset you mentioned at first; drug addicts and alcoholics.)

Bob Forer 1 year, 11 months ago

Sometimes bottom is freezing to death in the cold or overdosing. Does that work for you?

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

Sometimes the natural consequence of your actions is death. I may not like it. But I am willing to accept it.

Some people jump out of perfectly good airplanes. Sometimes the parachute malfunctions. Sometimes the professional race car driver smashes into the wall. Sometimes the football player gets paralyzed. Sometimes it's worse than that. I'm sorry when it happens. But I did watch both football games yesterday and was very entertained. Is there some contradiction there? Perhaps. What can I say.

avarom 1 year, 10 months ago

This is a very good reason to test all applicants applying for welfare or aid to make sure they aren't drug addicts or alcoholics.....then you can rubber stamp them DENIED!! However, there is a second part to that and its if they have children....then do the children suffer too, without monetary assistance...or do you place them in protect services until their parent starts testing clean??? Many people on welfare and on drugs or alcohol...don't always put their children first, sadly.

grimpeur 1 year, 11 months ago

What is the threshold income for testing? Because if we're only testing poor people, then this is an non-starter. And Merrick knows this, yet he's willing to be just another bumpkin trotting out this proposal and pretending that it's because he's concerned about the budget. The idea that only recipients of welfare or unemployment should be subject to testing is stupid.

In my view, if we're going to test, then we should start by testing the recipients of the largest amounts of state and federal benefits. And if corporations are people, and if anyone in a corporation tests positive, then any benefits--whether abatements, incentives, or other subsidies--provided by government to said corporation should be forfeit.

We should also investigate whether any of our elected officials are involved, say, with the Family or with other shadow groups supporting murderous anti-gay terrorist regimes in Uganda. Just as a f'rinstance.

avarom 1 year, 10 months ago

I believe all legislators, senators, govenors etc....Expense Reports should be public record....just to insure they are spending their time wisely for their constituents!! Right now we are only guessing our elected officals are doing the right thing, and we hopefully aren't paying someone's car payment or home addition......which sometimes is Questionable!

JackMcKee 1 year, 11 months ago

We're off to a great start to topping the idiocy of the 2012 legislative session. Kansas, where the zombie corpses of every dumb TeaBagger idea comes to find new life. Do these people even bother to read? This idea has been proven to be a waste of time and money over and over and over again.

cloudbursting 1 year, 11 months ago

Great pic! Are you related to Jeff Bridges?

chootspa 1 year, 11 months ago

No, they don't bother to read. They just propose what ALEC hands them. That's ok. Most of Kansas doesn't bother to read, either. Just look at the comments in the Salina paper on this very same proposal if you need proof of that.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 11 months ago

Perhaps they should also administer drug and alcohol tests to any private contractor who gets a state contract (for things like building the SLT,) along with every elected official. I'd guess that the positive rate would be way higher than the 2% that's been found in the witch hunt that's been carried out among poor people elsewhere in the country.

sci4all 1 year, 11 months ago

"Merrick said when he goes to the store, it 'blows my mind,' when he said he sees people who receive state benefits buying cigarettes and alcohol."

Cigarettes and alcohol are illegal now?

chootspa 1 year, 11 months ago

Apparently. Also they show up on drug tests. Oh right. They don't.

bevy 1 year, 11 months ago

Not to mention, I'm pretty sure you can't buy either with your vision card, even if you have cash assistance.

headdoctor 1 year, 11 months ago

I wonder just how much of the tax payers money Merrick and his law making buddies have misused.

Bob_Keeshan 1 year, 11 months ago

Does anyone know where Merrick stands on drinking and smoking by legislators?

I'm sure he's a pure teetotaler while he's serving in Topeka, right? Personally, I don't buy into any of the rumors about Merrick and an affinity for a stiff drink or seven.

WilburM 1 year, 11 months ago

Neither do I. Save for all the anecdotes and observations.

headdoctor 1 year, 11 months ago

So. House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell is omniscient. He can just walk into a place and know who is on state aid doing what he believes is mismanaging that aid. Priceless.

Yes, that couple of hundred dollars a month and $125 in food stamps is sure living large on the tax payer.

akt2 1 year, 11 months ago

Drug testing is nothing new. Plenty of people do it for pre-employment and many companies require it if there is an on the job injury. I don't see why peeing in a cup creates anxiety for anyone that doesn't have anything to hide.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 11 months ago

They object because it's an administered punishment on a baseless presumption of guilt.

But it fits with the Republican belief that being poor is a crime.

deec 1 year, 11 months ago

Do you not see the difference between the government testing for government-funded programs and private employers testing? Not to mention that it is expensive and has been repeatedly found to be unconstitutional?

Do we test farmers prior to giving them their welfare? How about corporation executives who receive tax credits, subsidized loans and other government aid?

inquire 1 year, 11 months ago

Shouldn't we be drug testing EVERYONE who is paid with tax payer money?

chootspa 1 year, 11 months ago

While we're wasting taxpayer money, sure. Let's shoot the moon!

Ron Holzwarth 1 year, 11 months ago

Even President Obama? That would make for some great XXX newsreel footage!

texburgh 1 year, 11 months ago

Sam backs off elimination of the EITC not because he gives a rat's backside about people living in poverty but because it will be easier to pay for tax cuts for his wealthy benefactors by stripping middle income people of the home mortgage deduction and permanently increasing their sales tax. The sales tax has the added benefit of putting a crushing burden on the working poor from whom he has already stripped the food sales tax rebate.

Add to all of this the drug testing policy because poor people MUST be drug abusers (and as stated here earlier, there are some who believe the speaker might fail a breathalyzer test by mid-afternoon but we won't test him in exchange for his taxpayer funded salary and super-annualized taxpayer funded pension) and the hiring of Landwehr to watch over children and families - a woman who has spent her legislative life enacting legislation to benefit the Kochs and crush the working poor - and you have the new world order of Kansas.

Kansas for the Kochs, by the Kochs, of the Kochs. A wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries.

situveux1 1 year, 11 months ago

Silly people, don't you know only Democrats are allowed to work for the government? It's everybody else's job to support their paycheck.

Alceste 1 year, 11 months ago

Are the legislators "drug tested"?

Meanwhile, House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell blows the public mind as he quietly prepares to take his back door payoff KPERS rip off retirement monies, legally using the absurd forumula he helped to craft to pay himself off once he leaves "public service".
After all, they're state workers also. But, guess what? These legislators set up a very special system for how they get their KPERS benefits. Here it is in a nutshell:

For the legislator listing all income - the daily rate, subsistence and allowance - this is how annualization is calculated:

•$88.66 (daily rate) x 31 (days) x 12 (months) = $32,981.52

•$123 (subsistence) x 31 (days) x 12 (months) = $45,756

•$7,083 non-session allowance.

Altogether, that equals $85,820.52, and that's the pay figure that would be used for that legislator retiring now.

The Senate president and House speaker are at the top of the pay scale, and annualized pay for those posts could be as high as $99,859.74, depending on their enrollment choices.

This guy Morris who is the President of the Kansas Senate has even been quoted as saying he deserves that kind of KPERS benefit because he is so underpaid!!! Man, this is some amusing stuff!!! Aren't legislators supposed to be servants of the people? Isn't the common thinking that people run for office, not to get rich, but to serve? We sure do think stupid real good like in this state: The people who do the day to day work which make Kansas run have their KPERS figured one way.....and the galoots who pose for 3 months a year as "legislators" get to figure their KPERS benefit in a totally different manner.....to the point where they've invented a new calendar: 372 days in a year and they work each and every one of them!! Woo Hoo!!!

What about the people who actually handle the cases of those who do receive the food stamp and cash assstance benefits? Are these people tested? Why, right here in River City....only a few years back, one of the people who processed public assistance benefits was convicted of money laundering from her office space in the local SRS office....."cleaning" crack cocaine sales money for her boyfriend! See: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2006/jan...

"She eventually consented to a search of her cubicle at work, where officers found the $11,000 in a paper sack."

http://blogs.kansascity.com/crime_scene/files/two_sentenced_in_lawrence_drug_case.pdf

Yeah, let's drug test the most disadvantaged of our state while the rest get away Scott free.....the person above got probation......In hard times, Kansans like to blame the poor....

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

While living in another state, and working as a social worker for a state agency that served vulnerable and at risk individuals, I was required to submit to drug testing to get that job, and thereafter if drug use was suspected. I neither thought it was a waste of government resources nor did I believe my rights were being unduly compromised. (The key word being "unduly").

I know a union carpenter who has to submit to random UAs as a condition of employment. I assume others have to also. Maybe it is a waste of money to have every single recipient of welfare undergo a drug test as a condition of getting those benefits. But In my opinion, it is not a violation of their rights so long as they have the right to say no and walk away from the benefits, as the carpenter may choose, as I could have chosen when I began employment with that state agency.

deec 1 year, 11 months ago

The opinion of the courts is that these programs are, in fact, unconstitutional. Their opinion trumps mine or yours.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

I agree. But I am still entitled to my opinion, which is why I specifically crafted my post to be a reflection of such.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

Because the employer might not know until after the accident, one that injures one or many people. Then, the employer will be sued for negligence. The argument being that they should have known.

Unless job sites are going to employ skilled professionals with the ability to recognize individuals under the influence, they aren't going to know who is and who is not under the influence. Frequent and random drug tests will go a long way in reducing the chances an inebriated individual is in a position to hurt himself or others.

In the alternative, imagine indemnifying all employers from accidents caused by an employee who was under the influence. Doesn't common sense tell you there are some employers who will knowingly look the other way?

It seems unfair to hold people accountable but take away their ability to protect themselves.

Bob Forer 1 year, 11 months ago

"Because the employer might not know until after the accident, one that injures one or many people. Then, the employer will be sued for negligence. The argument being that they should have known."

Apparently, you don't understand the law. The law tries to be rational. If an employer doesn't know until after an accident that someone was using drugs, then there is no liability, hence no lawsuit. Absent certain very dangerous industries, there is no legal requirement for employers to test their employees for drugs. With no duty, there can be no breach of duty, and hence there is no liability.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

"Absent certain very dangerous industries ... " Like construction? Like working with the disabled? You're making it sound like only people who work at nuclear reactors are the people that employers need concern themselves with. Every delivery driver, every car mechanic is a lawsuit waiting to happen. And that doesn't take into account the gap between the law in theory and in general practice, where lawsuits with little to no merit are settled all the time for their nuisance value. Whole industries have been built up on that. Think asbestos. Mechanics installing brakes suddenly had a duty to know the dangers of asbestos. Trucking firms had a duty to know they were transporting dangerous materials. Years later, when they were sued, they entered into agreements to agree, where liability didn't have to be even suspected. A person came in with an asbestos related disease and the lawyer broke out the template and sued everyone under the sun. Each trucking firm, every brake manufacturer chipped in a little, without ever it having been alleged that they had any knowledge or culpability. They just settled.

Though I don't recall you having ever made a specific claim to being an attorney, you do present yourself as one in this forum. I do hope that when you went to law school they taught you that the law as written is sometimes not how it is practiced. Even this high school dropout knows that.

(I did go back and got a GED and then went to college. But I thought that dropout line sounded good). :-)

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

I'm not sure I understand your point.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

Well, my first comment was intended to bring home the point that many people undergo drug tests and they are not as onerous as some here suggest. Even state employees have to undergo them, at least in my experience. When KsLib expanding it to include people getting harmed, I followed along that line of thinking.

chootspa 1 year, 11 months ago

It doesn't matter if you had to take a whiz quiz when you went to go work someplace. That's not the issue. It's not even about the assumed moral failings of the unemployed (who wouldn't be eligible for unemployment if they were fired for drug use). It isn't about trying to lower unemployment and welfare numbers by scaring people into not applying. This is financial mismanagement, plain and simple.

Even the justification is that too many recipients use cigarettes and alcohol - things that aren't illegal and wouldn't be picked up by a drug screening!

It would cost the state tons of money to run all those drug tests. Laws that forced applicants to fund their own drug test were found unconstitutional. Florida data showed that it cost the state far more than it saved. They didn't suddenly have a huge drop in applicants, and only a little over 2% tested positive - usually for marijuana.

So - we've got a state that has already decided to face a self-inflicted budget crisis, and they're proposing something that costs more than it saves. That's serious financial mismanagement.

The only people who benefit from laws like this are the companies that run drug testing labs. Wonder if Merrick has any ties there.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

Well, that "whiz quiz" wasn't just someplace. It was with the state. But that aside, I agree it's a huge expenditure considering the savings. But that's the way the government works. Not just with this program, but with many programs. Hopefully you'll be calling for other government inefficiencies to be addressed as well.

chootspa 1 year, 11 months ago

So what? Lots of jobs do drug testing. Whether you got drug tested for a job, public or private, is irrelevant to whether or not it's fiscally responsible to mandate such testing for welfare or unemployment benefits. It's not "just the way the government works." This state's government doesn't work that way right now. Even if it were the way things worked in most states (it isn't), it doesn't matter. It's a stupid idea.

And yes, I've always called for actual inefficiencies to be addressed, but even if I didn't, it would be irrelevant just like all the rest of the irrelevant chatter you're giving to the issue. This is a stupid, fiscally irresponsible idea, period. It doesn't save the state money. It doesn't prevent people from using drugs. It doesn't get unemployed people a job. In fact, it hurts the state's ability to do all of those things.

The only people that benefit are drug testing companies, and since it's ALEC model legislation, there's a good possibility those very companies were the ones that wrote the bill.

Scott Bonnet 1 year, 11 months ago

Drug testing is an expensive waste of state tax funds. Empirically, welfare recipients are less likey than the general public to be using drugs.

chootspa 1 year, 11 months ago

See links posted elsewhere in this thread. Also keep in mind that alcohol is a perfectly legal drug that wouldn't show up in UA testing.

globehead 1 year, 11 months ago

Landwher and Cox. Voted down by the voters land with a parachute in poverty agency positions. Ain't that great. The agency tasked with helping the disadvantaged has become a landfill in Brownbackistan. I hope they get to sit in the lobby and actually MEET some poor folks. This agency will now be tasked with reducing their budget up to 10% AFTER these losers have been hired on, But remember, it's not illegal! Many things that are not illegal probably should be.

William Weissbeck 1 year, 11 months ago

Haven't read all the comments, but has someone pointed out to the legislature that in Florida where this was adopted that program cost more than the savings from excluding a very, very few from benefits? Not to mention that this is more tax payer money going to a private drug testing company. No chance for favoritism. For a party like the GOP that prides itself on fiscal responsibility, they always seem to engage in meaningless and costly policies. Gee, sort of like the same argument against gun control - it wouldn't solve the problem and would just impose a burdensome cost.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 11 months ago

The answer is simple, you just subtract the cost of the test from the welfare check. It then becomes revenue neutral to the taxpayer and heck, the money was not earned by the leech anyway.

Problem solved.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 11 months ago

What flaw? The one where they take from the producers and give to the non producers?

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

Drug testing is quite expensive. And drugs cannot be purchased with a food card. If my memory serves me well neither alcohol nor tobacco can be purchased with a food card. Of course both of those items are drugs. Probably legislators should be tested for tobacco and alcohol content daily.

House Speaker Ray Merrick is likely lying. Then again perhaps he knows nothing about the food assistance program. Probably legislators should be tested for alcohol content daily.

Enjoy the day.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

I'm glad you live in a world where none of the benefits given are then traded for things that have been banned, such as alcohol, cigarettes or illegal drugs. Of course, the reason food cards exist rather than food stamps is because there was widespread abuse of that system. Glad to know these food cards are fool proof methods and those who were inclined to abuse the system simply stopped when the switch was made.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

The point being that tobacco and booze were likely not being purchased with a food card.

Plenty of legislators are likely guilty of abusing our campaign finance system somehow and perhaps abusing their authority is some cases.

How in the world would the house speaker know who is receiving assistance?

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

Wasn't there a case out of Wichita that did just that this past year?

Of course, you make the assumption that the store owner is complicit. Two individuals could simply barter. "I buy the food, you buy the beer".

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

In the case out of Wichita, which resulted in a conviction, there must have been an investigation, right? So what you're calling for is something that is already taking place.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

It's like speeding on the K-10 corridor. We know it's happening at a level much, much higher than the number of speeding tickets issued. All crimes in America, whether it's as simple as speeding or welfare fraud or corporate fraud or any other crime is happening at rates far higher than what we catch them at.

We could spend billions to find millions in fraud. Sure, that's not cost effective and that in itself is a good argument not to spend billions. But it's not an argument to say the millions in fraud don't exist.

John Hamm 1 year, 11 months ago

There are a number of items which cannot be purchased using a "food card" (alcohol, cigarettes are but two) but it occurs every day. And that is one way to determine who is on assistance.

deec 1 year, 11 months ago

If you know of stores that are committing welfare fraud, have you reported them?

verity 1 year, 11 months ago

It was a thought experiment. If you can think it, it must have happened.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

The SLT = high dollar expenses.

A local attorney was being paid $90 per hour to negotiate for the right of way.

KDOT paid out $81,192 to relocate two tenants

Landowner 3 received $256,000 for 38 acres

Landowner 13 - $205,192 for 24 acres

Landowner 14 - $359,342.60 for 17 acres

Landowner 16 - $355,110 for 25 acres

Landowner 17 - $166,000 for 12 acres

Landowner 29 - $281,000 for 6 acres

Landowner 30 - $891,099 for 11 acres

Landowner 32 - $250,000 for 4.25 acres

Landowner 38 - $3.5 million for 45 acres

There are other tax $$$$ numbers that indicate building a new roadway close to town is reckless spending to say the least.

So I'm told for the last leg local real estate agencies purchased plenty of right of away which should treat them well and taxpayers not so well.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

The Brownback aristocracy did not want Rep. Brenda Landwehr in office because she would not support his every desire. Therefore the powers that be might have influenced her exit.

George_Braziller 1 year, 11 months ago

And how exactly does he supposedly know who is and isn't receiving state benefits when he goes to the store? I do grocery shopping for an elderly woman who receives $16 a month in food stamps and sometimes I'll combine the trip and pick up something for myself. Use her Vision card to pay for her purchases and my own credit card to pay for my carton of cigarettes.

What you assume you see isn't always the reality you believe it is.

Merrick said when he goes to the store, it "blows my mind," when he said he sees people who receive state benefits buying cigarettes and alcohol. "I'm not saying everybody does that. But some people do and we need to tighten it down," he said.

oldexbeat 1 year, 11 months ago

Let's really make sure that money is used for the children, you know. House searches and checking recipts -- we certainly don't want poor families to be wasting money on cable, tv, radio, liquor, cigs, drugs, Fundementalist churches, any churches, anything...ok.

Ron Holzwarth 1 year, 11 months ago

Some churches provide child care at low or no cost for when parents need to go to work to support their families. And you have a problem with that?

oldexbeat 1 year, 11 months ago

hey, I don't think any one have their 4th and 5th Amendments taken away. I was being sarcastic OK. (Although I've seen sad scenes of kids parents giving money they don't have to cults and other church groups.)

Bob Forer 1 year, 11 months ago

it "blows my mind," when he said he sees people who receive state benefits buying cigarettes and alcohol.

The guy is an unmitigated liar. First of all, they don't take food stamps in liquor stores, so how the hell does he know that the folks who happen to be purchasing liquor when he is there himself buying a bottle, are on welfare or receiving unemployment benefits.

Second, you can't buy cigarettes with food stamps, so how does he know whether a particular purchaser of cigarettes is receiving public benefits?

Moreover, it is almost impossible to tell whether a customer in front of you is purchasing groceries with food stamps, as they did away with paper food coupons long ago. Now everything is a simply swipe of a card. How is he able to tell whether the card is a credit or debit card, or a Vision card?

Cigarettes and liquor are legal. . Is this fool suggesting that folks on public assistance cannot purchase with their own funds certain legal items. How would one enforce this ban? Talk about a nanny state.

John Hamm 1 year, 11 months ago

Sorry you are very much out of touch with reality. Some stores will. If you shop around you can buy Vision cards (I believe that's the name) for about Fifty Cents on the Dollar. Yes, right here in good old Larryville.

bad_dog 1 year, 11 months ago

Haven't you been by the "Vision Cards-R-Us" store @ 23rd & Haskell?

Armstrong 1 year, 11 months ago

Excellent job Rothy, the loons are in a lather again. Could someone post about how the sky is falling too

Alceste 1 year, 11 months ago

Oh my word. Give House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell a break. When one is working with a brain the size of a pea, one is destined not just for state of Kansas greatness....but for awards and all manner of other types of "stuff".

After all, Merrick was ALEC's legislator of the year in 2010.

Even our own LJWorld noted Merrick's association with ALEX here: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2012/dec...

We're in Kansas. In hard times, Kansans like to blame the poor.......

mypointis 1 year, 11 months ago

"Merrick said when he goes to the store, it "blows my mind," when he said he sees people who receive state benefits buying cigarettes and alcohol."

Sorry dude, but I don't think drug testing is going to stop people who receive assistance from buying alcohol and cigarettes. Get real.

verity 1 year, 11 months ago

"Landwehr lands state job"

Apparently there was no competition. "Was given job by her crony" might be more correct. Is that crony capitalism or am I getting my phrases mixed up?

Patricia Davis 1 year, 11 months ago

I think it would better serve the people of Kansas if our elected officials had to pee in a cup.

Liberty275 1 year, 11 months ago

"House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, said he supports legislation that would require Kansans receiving welfare or unemployment benefits to pass drug tests or lose their assistance."

OK. Then every business that gets a tax abatement should have all of it's owners and stock holders tested for drugs as well. Goose and gander.

Reuben Turner 1 year, 11 months ago

well i be... bout time someone checks on those recieving benefits. this is way over due!! My question would be, then what? when the test comes back negative and the benefits get cut, what are they going to do w/ the child/children that, now are really not, will not be able to depend on that monthly supply of stamps?.

jayhawklawrence 1 year, 11 months ago

Merrick is definitely looney tunes so it looks like we will be making national news again soon but not for any good reasons.

Bruce Bertsch 1 year, 11 months ago

If Der Fuhrer wants to presume my guilt without cause, he will find himself on the short end of a US Supreme Court decision. Drug testing the unemployed is unnecessary and does violate search and seizure without probable cause. Being unemployed is not a crime. It is also NOT public assistance. Unemployment benefits are paid via an employer tax and through grants from the US Government. They are merely administered by the state.

In_God_we_trust 1 year, 11 months ago

Just an idea to kick around. Instead of drug testing, why don't they provide a decent paying, good quality day job that anyone can physically do and qualify for, located in the city of the individual? Any employers can hire the people from that pool of working people in each city. Employers would be provided a tax incentive to hire from the pool, provided they pay a living wage as a minimum. It would keep people in the working pool and would prevent kicking people to the curb after a layoff. They should also put requirements on businesses, that they would have to schedule any layoff 6 months in advance with the State, making sure their unemployment was paid up for the employee that they plan on laying off. Additionally the employer would lose the tax hiring incentive because of the layoff.

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