Senate Approves Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients

(KCPW News) The Utah Senate approved a bill this morning that requires some welfare recipients in the state to be drug tested if they want to continue to receive benefits. Under House Bill 155, anyone applying for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF will have to complete a questionnaire designed to determine the likelihood that they’re using drugs. If it suggests they are, they’ll be asked to submit to a drug test. Republican Senator Aaron Osmond says it’s a balanced and fair program, because those who test positive will be directed to treatment.

“It catches and identifies an individual who is struggling with a substance abuse problem to ensure that they are successful in the family employment program and continue through to successfully provide for their family.” Osmond says.

Applicants would lose their benefits if they refuse a drug test or treatment.

Democratic Senator Luz Robles opposed the bill, arguing it’s unnecessary.

“When you remove the very, very small resources for those families, you will have an impact on children.” Robles says. “I don’t think we have a problem. Nobody has been able to show how big of a problem this is.”

The Senate approved the bill on a 22 to 4 vote. It will be voted on one more time before going to the governor.