I have often found myself wondering how State assistance programs filtered out the needy from than greedy. You hear so many stories about how the greedy got away with money or food when it was not necessarily needed. How the greedy stole the benefits from someone, possibly an entire family, just because they could. When scrolling through my Facebook news feed, I occasionally see suggested sites with titles similar to “Welfare needs to require drug tests!” or “Statewide Assistance Programs need to screen candidates better” but how do we implement something so new, so unconstitutional-like to match the current times? Do we as the State of Oregon need to introduce laws pertaining to applicants that are approved to receive benefits? The answer is yes. We need to put in place a mandatory drug test for the adults that apply for services.
As you can find in the article, “Drug tests for benefits? It’s complicated” there are multiple states that have passed laws requiring a form of drug screening for recipients. As of May 2014 there were nine states total and another 18 with pending bills. This article gives a very detailed and specific overview of the history of this idea. How each state differs from another and why. There are also rules to each of the state’s law. Some require the urinalysis to applicants that have drug related charges in their past. In Kansas, if a test comes back positive for drugs, the applicant only becomes eligible for benefits once treatment and job skill programs are completed. In this case, both the state and recipient would benefit. There is a tremendous amount of resources online to read further into the matter. It is not restricted to only assistance programs, but family welfare as well.
The new laws require new incurred costs as well. There are some states that pay for a urinalysis for each applicant, where others (Florida) will pay for it if the applicant passes the screening (Recipients as a Constitutional Condition). Utah paid out $31,000 to administer drug tests which ended up saving them $369,000 in avoided benefits over their first year of the program. By the year 2013, drug testing became a $2-billion-a-year industry alone (The GOP’S Drug Test Dragnet). State assistance programs, employer groups, rehabilitation centers, among others, all being the biggest users of this specific industry. $30k might sound like an enormous cost up from but look at how much it could save you in the end.
There is not a single person who wants to hear another person push volunteering on them. We as adults are busy; employed, students, parents and everything else in between. But think about it. Do you really want the state to give free handouts to those that do not need them? Would you rather them go to a person that is trying to get back on the right track? Let’s join together and figure out a way to help. Whether it is volunteering at a local food shelter or soup kitchen, where we could have honest conversations with those in need. We could learn of others’ life struggles and provide our own input and feedback. My recent volunteer work was completed at the Sunshine Division where I helped sort thousands of pounds of donated food for those in need of emergency relief. Working side by side with long time volunteers that shared stories about the people they have met along their journey. If Oregon was able to screen applicants more properly, hundreds of thousands of dollars could be saved and put to good use.
Finzel, Rochelle. “Drug tests for benefits? It’s complicated.” State Legislatures 40.5 (21014): 10. Academic OneFile. Web. 11 March 2015.
MacDonald, Isabel. Nation. 22 April 2013, Vol. 296 Issue 16, p11-17.
Player, Candice T. “Public assistance, drug testing, and the law: the limits of population-based legal analysis.” American Journal of Law & Medicine Spring 2014: 55+. Academic OneFile. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.
Wurman, Ilan. “Drug testing welfare recipients as a constitutional condition.” Stanford Law Review May 2013: 1153+. Academic OneFile. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.