CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Berkeley County State Senator Craig Blair (R-15) said he is hearing from many people who want him to again introduce legislation, during the 2014 Regular Legislative Session, that would require all welfare recipients to submit to random drug tests.

File photo

Sen. Craig Blair (R-Berkeley, 15)

“I don’t believe all people who are on welfare are drug addicts, by no means,” said Blair.

However, he said he does think there are some drug users among the thousands of people who receive state benefits.  “It’s that fraction that actually is stealing money from those that are truly in need and that is the concern.”

In Minnesota, county officials will soon start randomly drug testing welfare recipients who have been convicted of drug felonies as part of a new state law there.

The compromise testing requirement, for some but not all welfare recipients, was added as an amendment to a Minnesota bill last year and passed without any large scale debate.

By contrast, Blair’s proposal in West Virginia, one he’s proposed in recent years and plans bring up again when the 60-day session begins next week, has been extensively debated at the State House and on MetroNews “Talkline.”

On the show Monday, he said the drug testing requirement would protect taxpayers and steer people who need them into drug abuse treatment programs.

Blair said it’s already illegal in West Virginia for convicted drug felons to receive state benefits.

“The fly in the ointment on this one is the fact that, in West Virginia, I don’t even know whether it’s enforced, whether they go out and actually check to find out whether you’re a convicted felon or not,” he said.  “You might just check it off on the paperwork you fill out and that’s as far as it goes.”

More than half a dozen states, so far, have passed legislation addressing drug testing or screening for public assistance applicants or recipients.  Some of those requirements apply to all applicants, while others are more specific.

The 2014 Regular Legislative Session in West Virginia begins on Jan. 8.

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Comments

  • Rodney Hytonen

    P.S. - It appears tyhjat Mariuana will eventually be legal throughout the country whether state by state or federally legislated.

    Logically that should cut the already egligible number of positives in these tests (of btw mostly seniors and children) at least in half...

    But hey, as long as scapegoating the poor and seniors keeps you distracted from looking at corporate welfare and their rape of our natural resources and offshoring of our jobs...

  • Rodney Hytonen

    In 2012, the average American taxpayer making $50,000 per year paid just $36 towards the food stamps program.That's just ten cents a day! And when it comes to funding the rest of America's social safety net programs, the average American taxpayer making $50,000 a year pays just over six dollars a year.

    (Observation: It would cost you more to clean up the bodies if you let them starve - a LOT more. Plus, the vast majority are SENIORS and CHILDREN, so the "Let them WORK" argument is totally irrelevant - they can't! and most of them HAVE, all their lives, until their health and age stopped them.)

    OTOH -
    The average American family pays a staggering $6,000 a year in subsidies to Republican-friendly big business.
    And that's just the average family. A family making more than $50,000 a year - say $70,000 a year - pays even more to pad the wallets of corporate America.

    What we really can't afford is doling out $100 billion each year to corporations that don't need it.
    That's where the real outrage and the real news coverage should be.

  • Rodney Hytonen

    Should Republican legislators, who keep trying this with the same results in state after state, be tested for drugs?
    -or perhaps the teabagging voters who keep voting this clown show in,
    on the rather dubious (and pricey) BIG LIE barrage of the Finance and Energy Corporations' growing 'CON-servative' media ownership.

    Florida just tried this obvious poverty-scapegoating, crypto-racist "drug testing" -

    "Required drug tests for people seeking welfare benefits ended up costing taxpayers more than it saved and failed to curb the number of prospective applicants"

    "The numbers, confirming previous estimates, show that taxpayers spent $118,140 to reimburse people for drug test costs, at an average of $35 per screening.
    The state's net loss? $45,780.

    "That's not counting attorneys and court fees and the thousands of hours of staff time it took to implement this policy," Newton said.
    The law also didn't impact the number of people who applied for benefits."

    (http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/florida-didnt-save-money-by-drug-testing-welfare-recipients-data-shows/1225721 )

    AND?
    They're now being sued for Fourth Amendment violations, to add to the net costs.

    "He sponsored another bill in 2012, recently signed into law by Scott, to allow state agencies to drug test their employees and fire those who test positive.
    That law is also expected to cost money and to yield lawsuits."

  • Robert Miller

    I belive if you have to be drug tested to work and we pay taxes for welfare and food stamps we need to make sure they are not on or buying drugs with our money.Also maybe they could be treaded if they are and this would get more off drugsand help a long way in our drug probem

  • NANCY

    THE REASON I DON;T THINK THEY SHOULD BE TESTED IS THE CHILDREN,WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THEM? PEOPLE SAY TAKE THEM AWAY BUT U BE A SMALL CHILD JERKED FROM YOUR PARENTS AN SEE HOW U LIKE IT

    • George

      Nancy- You make it sound as if staying with their parents who are on drugs or have other problems and being trained as another generation of government dependence is a good thing for these children. Really??

  • 2XLPatriot

    YES! No argument or attempt at rationalizing NOT testing recipients can even be fielded here. Employment requires drug tests to work so welfare for not working should require it as well. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

  • glenn

    Ignorance and stupidity coupled with lack of education are pervasive in West Virginia.The availability of all kinds of mood altering drugs is commonplace. West Virginia is in decline and serves as a model of how the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Taking responsibility for one's own life is a vanishing idea and West Virginia leads the way. Of course drug testing should be required for all welfare recipients. But as long as a "legitimate debate" is allowed stupidity shall prevail. I do not pity the citizens of this state for they get what they vote for.

  • Priscilla Thiel

    I think drug testing should be automatic for anyone receiving any type of assistance. Unemployment, welfare, food stamps and disability. They should be checked before they recive their first check and should be randomly checked every 3 - 6 months.. Any children of these parents are already victims and need our help. They are not benefiting from their parents taking drugs. They are geting less money for their needs and lacking in responsible care. If your children's needs don't come before your needs, you should not have children. One way to protect these children is to have their parents tested. Every child should have a safe home life. And those people without children and capable of working should be working and not living off a system made to protect those in need, not those needing to hang out and take drugs.

  • LEE ARTHUR

    YES !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Justice

    *comment not cement

  • Justice

    I like this it's not a bad idea, however the cost associated with the drug screens for welfare recipients will further erode funds and I must ask what will be cut to fund this?

    I saw a cement on testing elected officials at every level in the state and I do believe the mechanics are in place to drug test all elected officials and really think that is the best first step we should take, drug test before taking office, randomly test during sessions or while on duty and establish legislation that removes the elected official and bats them from running for that office again when caught, I truly feel this can be done by requiring them to sign a contract prior to accepting an elected office and should be the first step to take in random drug screens because truly some elected officials from towns to state level must be high on something doing the things they do sometimes! that's in all parties R, D and I.

  • stophating

    Simpler and cost free solution..... Don't sell a hunting or fishing license to those on public assistance. They get food needs met by SNAP, and should be using that time to look for employment.

    Raise the fine for hunting or fishing without a license to $500, and watch what happens to the list of those on public assistance.

    • Rodney Hytonen

      I have never heard of a more counterituitive suggestion in my life.

      You want to punish those you think don't lift a finger to feed themselves by eliminating the ability to do so?

      Not ONE person who has ever been forced to take public assistance or wound up unemployed, would ever say it is preferable to having and workng job that pays a decent living.

      I would look to the "job creators" who offshore jobs, hire illegals and the poor for NON-living wage, and who collect SO much in corporate welfare and pay ZERO taxes, for the REAL "Welfare Queens!"

  • Don

    If a recipient is in need of public assistance and are taking from my earned income I do not see that as an invasion of their privacy but a follow up of my funds being taken to help someone who is truly trying instead of one that wants all others to give to their wants or lazy behinds as I see many under the age of forty sitting on their behinds doing drugs waiting on the so called free ride system

  • Mountain Man

    I'm good with this as long as all of the legislators take random drug tests as well. Don't ask others to do something you are not willing to do yourself. Especially Craig Blair.

  • Jason412

    It's a waste of money. There will be so many people to be tested Uncle Sam wont be able to keep up, after a month or two the "random" aspect will disappear and people will know when they're going to be tested. Maybe they get high for 3 weeks, detox for a week, and pass the test. Or maybe they get high 31 days a month, and keep clean urine in their freezer ready to be microwaved and used at a moments notice or take their kids clean urine(if you think people are better then to do that you're not in touch with reality)

    So the government is paying $30+ a drug test, and wont be able to catch hardly anyone with a positive; If they don't go with urine tests, and do something more reliable, you're talking $100+ a test.

    Will the tests be monitored? As in someone standing over their shoulder? Should someone receiving welfare have to be subjected to the same monitoring as someone who committed a felony and deals with a parole officer? Drug tests for employment are almost never monitored.


    I think everyone here underestimates just how far people will go to continue getting high, and getting a check