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The Welfare Addict Dilemma

Well, the answer to that for most people would be yes. But there’s another question that has been raised all over the United States during the past year. Legislators have been debating the issue of whether welfare recipients ought to undergo random drug testing to make sure they are not taking drugs. The next question is whether they should be kicked off of welfare if they do flunk the test, and if so, for how long.

Some states such as Florida and Missouri have already passed it, and some are still discussing it. Not surprising, the question came here to Mississippi as well.

Many people have looked at the question and said, “Well, if we have to undergo drug testing in order to keep our jobs, then why shouldn’t they have to as well?” Janis Lane is a retired telephone company worker who is a supporter of Hewes. She believes that the requirements to welfare should be the same as to employment, on this matter.
"I don't spend my money on drugs, and I don't think anyone should because I think we should have clear minds so that we can make reasonable decisions and we can conduct our business appropriately," Lane said. "With drugs, you're taking away from your children, and that money could be used more wisely, being spent on your children."

Opponents have said that these are people who need our assistance and if we don’t give them a hand, then how will they feed their families or pay their rent? Some believe that the testing violates the rights of those citizens.

Billy Hewes, a Republican state senator, proposed the Mississippi version of this policy. Hewes said his drug testing proposal would only be for people receiving welfare or unemployment benefits. He also would not kick children off Medicaid if a parent tests positive for illegal drug use. He stated, "You can't fault the kids for what the parents are doing.

The Florida law requires the welfare applicants to pay for their own testing; they get reimbursed if the test is negative. But if it’s positive, then they can’t receive public assistance for at least one year. The Missouri law tests people if there’s reasonable cause to suspect that drugs are being used.

This was proposed in mid-July 2011 and no doubt it will take a while before a decision is made.

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