MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Editorials

November 6, 2012

No drug tests for TANF recipients

Oklahoma should suspend implementation of a law requiring welfare recipients to pass a drug test while a federal appeals court mulls a Florida law’s constitutionality.

And legislators should use the time waiting on the appellate court ruling  to wise up and delete the Oklahoma law completely.

Florida passed the same kind of law — requiring a negative drug test to receive TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) benefits.

It was in place four months before it was temporarily blocked by a federal judge who said it may violate a constitutional ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.

Oklahoma can’t afford the legal fees if our law gets challenged in court. Not when we can wait to see how the appeals court rules.

Florida’s law, according to a report by the New York Times quoted in an American Civil Liberties Union website, says 2.6 percent of welfare recipients tested positive for drugs. That’s about three times less than the average for the general public.

It takes millions of dollars to implement this program. It won’t save the state enough money to warrant its consideration.

Some companies require passing a drug screen for employment. If it is good enough for employers, why isn’t it good enough for government?

Because applying for a job is not the same as being a citizen of the United States. Government should not force its citizens to incriminate themselves.

The law also puts more children at risk when their parents fail to qualify for help.

Those who abuse drugs are not going to stop doing drugs immediately.

It would increase crime when those who failed resort to stealing to put food on the table.

We should not punish children because of the addictions of the mothers and fathers.

We would be better off drug testing  to receive or renew your driver’s license. At least that might have a prayer of keeping high people from driving.

State elected officials, all the way up to the governor, should take annual random drug screens if they want to subject their constituents to this law.

There is no justification worth the cost of the program and the inevitable millions spent defending it in court.

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