Kansas bill requiring drug testing for unemployment, welfare advances

02/25/2013 1:24 PM

05/16/2014 9:16 PM

State officials would require drug tests of any Kansan they have reason to believe may be using controlled substances and also getting unemployment or welfare benefits under a bill a Senate panel advanced Monday.

Under the proposal that is now poised for a vote in the Senate, welfare and unemployment recipients who fail a urine drug test would lose state cash assistance until they complete a substance abuse treatment program and job skills training. They would then be subject to periodic tests.

Those who fail a second test would lose state assistance for a year – or when they finish treatment. A third failure would ban them from benefits altogether.

Children of those failing could still get welfare through a third party who can pass a drug test.

When someone fails a test, they could request a second independent test. If that one shows up negative, the state will pay the cost of both urine analyses.

Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, opposed the move. Last week, she told the Senate Commerce Committee that the bill targets women because many women are the heads of households getting state assistance, and she said it allows state officials to essentially profile people for potential drug use based on demeanor, arrest records and other records.

But the measure appears to have strong support among conservative Republicans who dominate the Senate. She said the state can already provide treatment for drug users.

Senate Bill 149 also makes anyone convicted of a first drug felony after July ineligible for welfare for five years. Any subsequent conviction would lead to a lifelong ban from welfare.

The proposed drug testing would force the state to hire four more employees to deal with drug testing and treatment management. The state projects 1,852 people would be tested in the second half of 2014, costing about $92,6000 for the $50 tests. That would increase, costing about $2.2 million in 2014, budget officials say.

But the state could save $1.1 million as result of the 1,475 people the state projects would be kicked off of state assistance.

Drug treatment costs about $6,300 per person, but it’s unclear what the state’s share would be after figuring in Medicaid and other programs that might help pay for treatment.

Check back with Kansas.com for updates.

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