Drug testing for assistance

POSTED: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 - 7:20pm

UPDATED: Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 9:28pm

The majority of jobs today require you to take a drug test before they hire you. Some viewers have emailed us asking why Texans receiving government assistance aren't tested?

When KETK saw this question from the viewers, we wanted to know what is required in order for someone to receive assistance? People who are applying for public assistance must fill out an application which includes general information such as proof of citizenship, age and income.

Once you turn that portion of the application in, the Department of Human Services performs an extensive background search to make sure the information is correct. Almost everything is checked before approving someone for assistance. The only thing that seems to be left out is the drug test.

So why doesn't Texas require drug testing? Texas Health and Human Services official, Stephanie Goodman, told us a person with a felony drug conviction can't get food stamps or temporary assistance for needy families.

In a statement she also told us this about random drug testing: "It would need to be approved by Congress or the Texas Legislature. If it was approved, the state would need the additional funding to pay for it."

The 1996 Welfare Reform Act allows states to require drug testing for anyone receiving assistance. According to the Washington Post, a few states such as Florida, New York and Virginia have adopted a more reserved approach. But in October 1999, Michigan became the first state to actually require drug testing of all welfare recipients. A lawsuit was filed within five weeks. The case eventually went to the U.S. Court of Appeals, which ruled the practice unconstitutional.

Comments News Comments

I completely understand the feelings of wanting people on public assistance to be drug tested. At first I agreed with it too until I thought about the innocent children that are going to be punished as a result of their loser parents drug use. I would hate to see a child suffer anymore than they probably already do from a decision their parent has made.

Testing all recipients is unconstitutional under the 4th Amendment, which prohibits the government from performing 'unreasonable searches' by the government.(Probable cause must be shown, and being poor is not probable cause.) The Michigan case was Marchwinski v. Howard. There are federal and state laws that address employer testing. The government is not the recipients' employer, so these are two separate issues.

Ruled the practice unconstitutional?!?
All the years I have worked and all the years most people I know have worked and HAD to take drug test and people that get assistance don't have to???? Please explain to me how it is unconstitutional for them but not for the working man or woman!!!!!

How is it an invasion of privacy to drug test people on state assistance?? My husband works every day and get drug tested at random. Do they have any idea how many of these people on assistance use their money for drugs or vacations or nonsense stuff??? Give me a break..If the state supports you, you should have to prove to them that you are drug free and at least trying to bedtter yourself. Can you imagine what that would do for our economy. ???

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