St. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) – It’s official; the Missouri Department of Social Services now has the go-ahead to put together a program for screening welfare applicants and recipients for drugs.
Governor Jay Nixon signed the bill into law Tuesday that states people who test positive or refuse to be checked and fail to complete a substance abuse program will lose their benefits for three years. All it’s going to take is the suspicion that there is reasonable cause to suspect illegal drug use. There is a failsafe for households with children; if benefits are cut off, the state will appoint a third-party to receive benefits on the children’s behalf. Also if the recipient participates in a substance abuse program and does not test positive for at least half a year, they could keep their benefits.
In addition to the drug tests, the legislation requires that photographs of welfare recipients be placed on their electronic benefit cards. This will reduce the possibility of drug addict using fraudulent identification.
Proponents of the testing requirement strongly contend that welfare benefits funded by taxpayers should not go to people who are using illegal drugs. Critics on the other hand say the legislation singles out one group of people for no reason and my be unconstitutional.
According to earlier reports, state budget analysts estimated the program could cost up to $2.3 million a year. There is no estimate on how much might be saved.
Welfare drug testing is HB73.