Drug Testing Bill | VideoJessica Roose | 2/4/2013
You may have been asked to take a drug test before being hired for your job. Now some lawmakers want to extend that to those who are asking for assistance from the state.
"I`m trying to put an incentive in place here to say, `Hey we have to stay clean if we`re going to try and get our lives together,`" said Representative Dennis Johnson (R) from Devils Lake.
If the bill passes, those who apply for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or for the Supplemental Assistance Program would need to take a drug test before determining eligibility. They would also be responsible for paying for the test.
"Taxpayers shouldn`t have to subsidize a drug use of those seeking public assistance. If a person can afford drugs, they shouldn`t be asking for assistance," Johnson said.
If the individual passes the test, they would be reimbursed. However, if they fail they wouldn`t, and they would become ineligible for the programs for a year.
Opponents say the bill goes too far.
"People don`t have even two dollars in their pocket and to tell them we need 50 dollars before we can make you eligible. Who will collect that money? And what if the recipient doesn`t have the money to pay for it that day? Will they be denied because they`re poor?" said Burleigh County Social Services Director Sherry Doe.
Doe says this wouldn`t even be allowed under the SNAPS program due to federal restrictions that do not allow for drug screening.
Even if that program was excluded from the bill, opponents say the bill wouldn`t get very far.
"Only one state at the moment has tried to implement a bill like this and that`s currently held up in court. Michigan had previously done it and that was struck down as unconstitutional," said ND Catholic Conference Director Christopher Dodson.
The bill`s sponsor says even if it doesn`t pass, it`s a discussion he wanted started.
The bill also states that if a parent is denied eligibility due to a failing drug test, someone must be designated to receive benefits for the child and also undergo testing.