Governor of Kansas Signs Bill that Requires a Drug Test for Aid Recipients

The Governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback, recently signed a bill that would require applicants for a welfare program to submit to a drug test before receiving any aid. He said that this bill was a step toward ending a scourge on the state and break the cycle of property.

The Republican governor signed the bill during a Statehouse ceremony, saying that the state had an obligation to help residents break their addictions and improve their lives through treatment and jobs training. Brownback said,

“Drug addiction is a scourge in Kansas. This is a horrific thing that hits so many people. What this effort is about is an attempt to get ahead of it. And instead of ignoring the problem to start treating the problem.”

The bill that Gov. Brownback signed would require the Department of Children and Family Services to screen individuals for illegal drug use when they apply for unemployment or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families benefits. If someone who applies for these programs tests positive for drugs, the state would provide mandatory drug treatment and job skills training funded by TANF or Medicaid. The drug treatment would cost between $2,200 and $6,300 per person. The legislation also requires that elected officials and some state employees undergo drug testing if there were a reasonable suspicion about their behavior.

Pre-employment drug screenings will be required for anyone who wants to be eligible for unemployment benefits under the bill. Applicant for unemployment must submit to a drug test and if they test positive will have to complete a treatment program and job skills training. Failure to complete the treatment or training would disqualify that person from receiving any unemployment benefits.

The bill will make sure that drug treatment is provided for anyone who is using a public assistance program and who is identified to have a substance abuse problem. The TANF program provided about $42 million in benefits for around 32,000 adults and children in Kansas in 2012. If a child was to fail the drug test, their assistance would not be suspended. Instead, the funds will be received by family members or third parties if a child fails the drug test.