Bill for drug testing of welfare recipients is closer to the Senate floor
MDN Menu
MDN.ORG Mo. Digital News Missouri Digital News MDN.ORG: Mo. Digital News MDN.ORG: Missouri Digital News

Bill for drug testing of welfare recipients is closer to the Senate floor

Date: February 8, 2011
By: Meghann Mollerus
State Capitol Bureau
Links: Read HB 73.

Intro: 
The Senate version of the welfare drug testing bill cleared the Senate Health Committee Tuesday with less severe measures than those in the House bill. Meghann Mollerus has more from the State Capitol.
RunTime:  0:42
OutCue:  SOC

Wrap: The bill specifies there will be no drug test unless the welfare worker files a child abuse report.  Also, there will be no loss of benefits if recipients enter a treatment program.

Republican Health Committee Chair Luann Ridgeway says the bill will protect tax payers.

Actuality:  RIDGE2.WAV
Run Time:  00:15
Description: It makes no sense for hard-working, tax-paying Missourians, who already have to submit to random drug testing, to be paying the bills for people to turn around and then use that money inappropriately to languish in drug addiction.

Kansas City Democratic Senator Jolie Justus voted against the bill.  Justus wants to establish funding for addiction treatment of recipients who fail the test.

From the State Capitol, I'm Meghann Mollerus.

Intro: 
The Senate Health committee voted drug testing for some welfare recipients out of committee Tuesday, despite Democratic opposition. Meghann Mollerus has more from the State Capitol.
RunTime:  0:49
OutCue:  SOC

 

Wrap: The Senate substitute is different from the bill the House passed on the issue. 

The bill would provide no drug test of a recipient unless the welfare worker files a child abuse report.  Also, there will be no loss of benefits if the recipient enters a treatment program.

Republican Health Committee Chair Luann Ridgeway says the measure will help prevent a harmful home environment.

Actuality:  RIDGEWAY.WAV
Run Time:  00:15
Description: "It protects the children. Who could honestly argue that it's appropriate to leave a child in a welfare home where someone is abusing alcohol or drugs. That, in and of itself, could produce an environment for child abuse."

Democrats collectively oppose the bill.

Kansas City Democratic Senator Jolie Justus says no measure exists to fund rehab for recipients who fail the drug test.

From the State Capitol, I'm Meghann Mollerus.

Intro: 
Democratic Senators oppose drug testing for welfare recipients in a bill voted out of committee Tuesday. Meghann Mollerus has more from the State Capitol.
RunTime:  0:42
OutCue:  SOC

Wrap: Under the bill, welfare recipients who fail a drug test would be suspended of partial funds for two years unless they seek treatment.

Democratic Senator Jolie Justus says she used to be in support of drug testing welfare recipients, but the current bill does not specify how recipients will fund rehab.

Actuality:  JUSTUS.WAV
Run Time:  00:09
Description: "Until we put something in place to address the problem of addiction, I don't think we should punish the children who are affected by drugs and alcohol."

Republican Health Committee Chair Luann Ridgeway says the bill actually will protect children by addressing potentially harmful home environments.

In the House, a similar, but tougher measure won overwhelming approval.

From the State Capitol, I'm Meghann Mollerus.


Missouri Digital News is produced by Missouri Digital News, Inc. -- a non profit organization of current and former journalists.