Socha: Texas should drug test those applying for federal welfare
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 21:10
Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah. What do these seven states have in common?
They are the seven states in our country that have passed legislation to require those applying for federal welfare to pass a drug test. In addition to those states, 21 others have some form of testing that is not required by law, but each of those states are working towards passing the legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
Sadly, Texas is not one of the total 28 states working on such legislation and I believe that this is a grave mistake. As one of the largest states, with a proportionately large amount of leverage on Capitol Hill, Texans should be helping to spearhead this bill instead of being out of the picture.
Regardless of political views, everyone is looking to save money and reduce the national debt. What better way to cut spending then to have one of the largest states, in both area and population, refuse to feed drug addictions that are bleeding money from taxpayers’ wallets? While the test will cost taxpayers as well, it is a small price compared to giving endless funding to those using illegal drugs.
You may agree with the ruling of the 2003 Supreme Court case of Marchwinski v. Howard where “suspicionless or random drug testing of welfare applicants” was deemed unconstitutional, according to the NCSL. However, if just cause is given, then testing is allowed. Many of the states, such as Utah, are now using this tactic to determine who should be tested by having the applicant fill out a questionnaire and administering the test if the applicants’ results are suspicious.
You may question the validity of drug users even trying to get on welfare, but according to the Associated Press, in a random test of 4,000 applicants in Florida, 108 tested positive for illegal drugs.
While that may not seem like a large number, disqualifying these applicants saved the state of Florida nearly $600,000 in welfare costs. With such a small amount of expense – the testing – leading to so much savings in welfare payments, it is evident that this approach is beneficial to state and national governments.
Applicants who fail the test face more penalties than being unable to receive welfare benefits. All states participating in the plan have determined specific amounts of time in which applicants are ineligible to receive benefits. However, if individuals decide to enroll in substance abuse counseling, the length of ineligibility is shorter.
I cannot see any reasonable objection to this kind of legislation. It doesn’t feed the habits connected with substance abuse, it ensures healthier citizens, and, if it’s carried out correctly, it may end up reducing the number of people who need welfare assistance. If we require citizens to pass a drug test to get welfare, they will also be able to pass a drug test to get a job −and that, in turn, will help the economy improve overall.
Texas needs to get back in the drivers’ seat with this legislation and help get our country healthier and back to work.