Democrats in Kansas were unable to kill a Republican bill to drug test welfare and unemployment recipients, but they were successful in adding an amendment that would require lawmakers to also face testing.
Democratic state Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, who opposes drug testing, said that she wanted to make sure that lawmakers would be subjected to the same rules if the bill does end up passing.
Republican were able to defeat a second Democratic amendment that would have meant drug testing business owners who receive state subsidies.
“It sets a double-standard,” Democratic state Sen. Anthony Hensley said of the drug testing program. “We are singling out poor people and people who are out of work when we know there are many other people and many other organizations that also receive benefits from the state government.”
The state Senate rejected the amendment by a vote of 7-29 after Republican state Sen. Jeff King argued that it would apply to out-of-state corporate officers.
Concerned that the drug testing program could run out of money because it relies on the funds from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Republican state Sen. Vicki Schmidt added an amendment to use general funds when the welfare money dries up.
Republicans have argued that the drug testing program, which would cut off welfare benefits after a second failed test, is not meant to punish recipients who use drugs.
“This is not meant to be a punitive measure, and I don’t believe it is a punitive measure,” King insisted on Wednesday.
Earlier this week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court after a federal appeals court refused to lift a temporary ban on a program to drug test welfare recipients in his state.
“Welfare is 100 percent about helping children,” Scott said in a statement. “Welfare is taxpayer money to help people looking for jobs who have children. Drug use by anyone with children looking for a job is totally destructive. This is fundamentally about protecting the wellbeing of Florida families. We will protect children and families in our state, and this decision will be appealed to the Supreme Court.”
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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