Tennessee studies welfare drug testing in six other states

The Tennessean. Welfare Drug TestingLegislation approved this year mandates the drug-testing program and gives the Department of Human Services until January 2014 to finalize a plan. Over the next two years, the department must submit quarterly progress reports to two General Assembly committees. “The Department hopes to gain insight on how other states have implemented their policy as well as any obstacles that they have faced along the way,” Department of Human Services Commissioner Raquel Hatter wrote in a four-page letter that serves as the first progress report. Welfare drug testing has been a hot topic of debate for a while now, and the new state law in Tennessee requires suspicion-based drug testing for anyone seeking aid through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the federal welfare program administered by states. Tennessee officials researched similar efforts in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Oklahoma and Utah. In all six states, failing a drug test would make a resident ineligible for benefits for a defined period of time, ranging from one month to three years. Although most of the states have provisions that would reduce the amount of time if the person enters a drug rehabilitation program. Any sort of drug screening legislation will no doubt be a welcome addition for many, who are justified in claiming that welfare recipients should not be an exception to the drug screening rules that many employed taxpayers are subjected to. Nonetheless, there will always be critics, particularly when it comes to such a controversial topic. Critics claim that drug testing welfare recipients is simply not a cost-effective measure and not a valid use of taxpayers dollars – with money saved being only a fraction of that which is spent on the tests. What’s your opinion on drug testing for welfare recipients? Are you for or against it?]]>

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