Following similar legislation passed in Florida and Missouri, Republican Rep. Guy Liebmann of Oklahoma City has announced he will introduced a bill in 2012 that would require drug testing for anyone seeking temporary government assistance.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) and Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) both signed legislation this year that requires applicants for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to undergo a mandatory drug test. The program is meant to help needy families so that children can be cared for in their own homes and prepare parents for work.
According to the Associated Press, applicants who test positive for illegal substances would be disqualified from the program for one year, unless they choose to seek treatment, under Liebmann’s legislation.
The Department of Human Services estimates 22,000 people in Oklahoma receive TANF benefits.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the drug testing of welfare recipients is likely unconstitutional and fiscally irresponsible. A Michigan law that required welfare recipients to receive random drug testing was struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in 2003.
False positives can further complicate mandatory drug tests, and the tests cannot identify alcohol or prescription drug abuse. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism conducted a study that showed that welfare recipients were no more likely to be drug users than the rest of the population.