House panel approves drug testing for welfare recipients

djournal-state-news-mississippiBy Bobby Harrison

Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON – Legislation to require drug screenings of new welfare recipients passed the House Public Health Committee today and is pending before the full chamber.

Before the session began, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant voiced support for legislation requiring welfare recipients to undergo drug testing. The legislation was passed Tuesday via a voice vote. It appeared most Democrats on the Committee voted no.

After the hearing, House Public Health Chair Sam Mims, R-McComb, said, “You never heard me say I want to kick people off… The spirit of the legislation is let’s help these people.”

But under the bill, if a person flunks a second drug test after going through a treatment program, the recipient would lose the benefits, which are supposed to be provided for the children of the recipients.

The legislation would require people applying for Temporary Aid for Needy Families benefits to take a survey developed to try to determine if it was likely that the person was a dug user. A person suspected of being a drug user, based on the survey results, would be required to take a test.

If the person tested positive for drug use, the TANF recipient would be required to undergo a two-month outpatient drug treatment program. During the program, the person would continue to receive benefits. But if a drug test was failed after the program, the person would be ineligible to continue to receive the benefits.

  • Tony

    Why do this? Other states that have tried this have found it costs more money to administer the tests than is actually saved by stopping payments to those who test positive, so there is no financial incentive. Trying to help addicts? It would be more believable if testing positive tied in a mandate for treatment with continued welfare. But most importantly, this assistance that is being cut is intended for children. What are the children supposed to do when their parents lose assistance? Reminds me of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” — Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?

  • Thile

    Every taxpayer in the state: please set aside $10, as the litigation from this idiocy will cost us all. It takes an unprecedented level of stupid to see a law get thrown out by the Supreme Court when implement it in other states, and attempt to implement it in one’s respective state anyway.

  • barney fife

    Another waste of time and money. It’ll get tied up in the courts and cost even more before they powers that be ever get their first sample for tasting – if they ever do.
    (oops … did I say “tasting”?? .. that should read “testing” .. right?