This week, the Missouri House passed legislation which prevents drug-users from receiving welfare benefits. The legislation calls for the Department of Social Services (DSS) to establish a drug-testing program for work-eligible applicants and recipients of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. This is a cash-aid program and currently has NO restrictions for those who may use illegal substances. If passed and signed by the Governor,
The legislation says that to be tested, there must be "reasonable suspicion" to believe a person is using illegal drugs. After an administrative hearing, applicants or recipients who test positive will be declared ineligible for benefits for one year.
This legislation is long over-due. Most employees, including the military and federal employees, are required to take a mandatory drug test. Why shouldn’t welfare recipients who receive support from OUR hard earned tax dollars be held to the same standard?
The bill also directs the department to develop, implement, and enforce a policy requiring the immediate termination of an employee who fails to report any suspected illegal use of a controlled substance or fraud of the TANF Program by any applicant or recipient of TANF benefits.
In addition, the bill also subjects elected officials to a drug test prior to taking office and once every two years after that while they remain in office.
This legislation will help encourage people using drugs to stop and get help. It is a necessary intervention. If people want to receive welfare benefits, they have to be drug-free. The Senate needs to pass this bill and the Governor should sign it. This legislation will begin to help and enable our citizens to live a clean and productive lives rather than harming themselves and those around them.