States have proposed drug testing of applicants and recipients of public welfare benefits since federal welfare reform in 1996. The federal rules permit drug testing as part of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant. In recent years, many states have proposed some form of drug testing or screening for applicants. In 2009, over 20 states proposed legislation that would require drug testing as a condition of eligibility for public assistance programs. In 2010 at least 12 states had similar proposals. None of these proposals became law because most of the legislation was focused on “suspicionless” or “random” drug testing, which is at odds with a 2003 Michigan Court of Appeals case. Marchwinski v. Howard ruled that subjecting every welfare applicant in Michigan to a drug test without reason to believe that drugs were being used, was unconstitutional.
The proposals gained momentum beginning in in the 2011 session. Three states passed legislation in 2011, four states enacted laws in 2012, and one state has passed legislation in 2013, bringing the total number of states to eight. In 2013, Kansas enacted legislation to require drug testing for applicants and recipients suspected of using controlled substances. In 2012, Utah passed legislation requiring applicants to complete a written questionnaire screening for drug use and Georgia passed legislation requiring drug tests for all applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Tennessee approved a bill to require the department to develop a plan for substance abuse testing for all applicants and Oklahoma passed a measure requiring all applicants for TANF to be screened for illegal drug use.
In 2013, at least 29 states have introduced legislative proposals requiring drug testing or screening for public assistance applicants or recipients in 2013:
[button color=”white” size=”normal” alignment=”none” rel=”follow” openin=”samewindow” ][/button]Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia
AS OF 2014, at least nine states have passed legislation regarding drug testing or screening for public assistance applicants or recipients (Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah.) Some apply to all applicants; others include specific language that there is a reason to believe the person is engaging in illegal drug activity or has a substance use disorder; others require a specific screening process.
*Florida’s law was halted by a district judge. In February 2013, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s ruling to halt enforcement of the program. The District Court issued a final judgment in December 2013 that permanently stopped enforcement of the law saying it violated constitutional protections against unreasonable searches.
*Tennessee’s bill requires the department to develop a plan of suspicion-based testing and report its recommendations to the legislature by January 2014.
*As of March 6, 2014, at least 24 states have proposed legislation requiring some form of drug testing or screening for public assistance recipients in the 2014 legislative sessions.
*Georgia law requiring new welfare applicants to pass drug tests to receive their benefits may be in jeopardy after the federal judge struck down a similar law in Florida. Opponents of the Georgia law said the ruling may mean the measure may not be implemented. Click here for story: http://www.cbsatlanta.com/video?clipId=8521299&autostart=true
WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS of drug testing of applicants and recipients of public welfare benefits? DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE and why! For detailed information about each states legislation, please visit: http://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/drug-testing-and-public-assistance.aspx