UPDATE: Bill to drug test welfare recipients on its way to governor

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UPDATE 3/10/16 @ 12 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A bill that would drug test some welfare recipients is on its way to the governor.

The Senate voted in favor of the bill Thursday morning.

It would be a three-year statewide drug-testing pilot program.

Supporters of the bill say only those with a "reasonable suspicion" of drug use would be tested, and it would help locate addicts and get them into treatment centers.

On Wednesday, the House approved the bill 91-8 with a few changes. The Senate approved that amended bill 27-7.

The bill is now headed to the governor for his signature.

Thirteen other states have legislation requiring some form of a drug test for welfare recipients.

Critics have said it hasn't been effective in those states.



UPDATE 3/9/16 @ 10 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Drug testing welfare recipients is an idea that's been batted around the West Virginia state Capitol for years, but this legislative session it may actually become law.

The House of Delegates voted 91-8 Wednesday for a three-year statewide drug-testing pilot program.

Huntington resident Ray Viars is in favor of the proposal.

"If I have to work my hind end off for my job and be drug tested, I think they should be tested too," he said.

Food stamp recipient Mary Coy says she feels like it's unfairly targeting poor people.

"I don't think it's right," she said. "Don't put me in a category you don't know I'm in."

Supporters of the bill say only those with a "reasonable suspicion" of drug use would be tested, and it'll help locate addicts and get them into treatment centers.

Huntington resident Mattie Stanley's brother died of a drug overdose a year ago. She says the person who sold him the drugs that killed him was on welfare.

"I know families that are on welfare, and all they're doing with that money is buying drugs," she said, '"so I think it is important that they do have this drug test."

The state Senate passed the bill last month. It would need at least one more vote before being sent to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

Thirteen other states have legislation requiring some form of a drug test for welfare recipients.

Critics have said it hasn't been effective in those states.



ORIGINAL STORY 3/9/16 @ 2:26 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- A proposal to drug-test some West Virginia welfare applicants could soon head to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

The House voted 91-8 Wednesday for the three-year statewide drug-testing pilot program for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program applicants.

Senators previously passed it, and would need at least another vote before sending it to Tomblin.

The National Conference of State Legislatures says at least 13 states have public assistance drug testing.

The West Virginia measure seeks federal approval to test applicants with a "reasonable suspicion" of drug use.

A caseworker would decide who demonstrates "qualities indicative of substance abuse," which include drug-related convictions within five years.

Failed tests would require substance abuse treatment, counseling and a job skills program. Subsequent failures would spur temporary and then permanent bans.



 
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