The Department of Human Services estimates 22,000 people in Oklahoma receive TANF benefits, which helps poor families with children pay for living expenses, including rent, heat, utilities and personal care items.
Democrats in the Oklahoma House who opposed the legislation added an amendment that required anyone seeking public office to pass a drug test as well. The bill’s sponsor, Republican state Rep. Guy Liebman, opposed the amendment, but his attempt to eliminate measure was defeated by a bipartisan vote.
When the bill arrived in the state Senate, Sen. David Holt (R) dropped the provision from the legislation, describing the amendment a “stunt.”
Republican lawmakers across the nation have pushed to drug test welfare applicants. On Monday, Utah became the latest state to pass such a law. Florida, Arizona, and Missouri have also approved laws requiring low-income parents seeking federal cash assistance to pass a drug test.
Michigan previously tried to implement a welfare drug testing law, but it was struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in 2003.
U.S. District Court Judge Victoria Roberts held that the rationale behind drug testing welfare recipients “could be used for testing the parents of all children who received Medicaid, State Emergency Relief, educational grants or loans, public education or any other benefit from that State.”
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