On March 12th House Bill 2388 passed the House by a vote of 82 to 6 which requires a drug test to screen each individual who receives Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) within three months of being approved for benefits. The cost of drug testing shall be the responsibility of the individual tested.
This bill includes any parent or caretaker relative who is included in the cash assistance group, including an individual who may be exempt from work activity requirements due to the age of the youngest child or who may be exempt from work activity requirements as specified by the Department.
An individual who tests positive for controlled substances as a result of a drug test required pursuant to this section shall be ineligible to receive TANF benefits for one year after the date of the positive drug test unless the individual completes substance abuse treatment program.
An individual who tests positive is denied TANF benefits as a result may reapply for those benefits after six months if the individual verifies the successful completion of a substance abuse treatment program. An individual who has met the requirements of this subsection and reapplies for TANF benefits shall be required to pass an initial drug test and meet the requirements of this section. Any drug test conducted while the individual is undergoing substance abuse treatment shall meet the requirements of this section. The cost of any drug testing and substance abuse treatment provided pursuant to this section shall be the responsibility of the individual being tested and receiving treatment. An individual who fails the drug test required pursuant to subsection A of this section may reapply for benefits one time.
An individual who is approved for TANF benefits after November 1, 2012, and who fails to comply with the drug-testing requirement within three months of approval shall be ineligible to receive TANF benefits until the drug-testing requirement is met.
If a parent is deemed ineligible for TANF benefits as a result of failing a drug test the eligibility of the dependent child for TANF benefits shall not be affected. An appropriate protective payee shall be designated to receive benefits on behalf of the child and the parent may choose to designate another individual to receive benefits for the minor child of the parent. The designated individual shall be an immediate family member, or if an immediate family member is not available or the family member declines the option, another individual, approved by the Department, may be designated. The designated individual shall undergo drug testing before being approved to receive benefits on behalf of the child. If the designated individual tests positive for controlled substances, the individual shall be ineligible to receive benefits on behalf of the child.
Recent federal statistics indicate that welfare recipients are no more likely than the general population to abuse drugs. Data show that about 8 percent of people use drugs illegally. At that rate from the 13,658 families receiving TANF benefits 1092 may fail the drug test. TANF payments in one year would potentially be reduced by $2,476,656, based on an average $189 per month payout (this does not include the administrative related costs). The maximum amount an adult with two children can receive in Oklahoma is $292 per month.
This program could be applied to all forms of government housing and living assistance to discourage drug abuse.