Oklahoma Lawmaker Supports Drug Testing For Welfare Recipients
Jamie Oberg, News 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- An Oklahoma lawmaker is not giving up the fight to get legislation requiring welfare recipients to undergo drug testing before getting money.
The announcement comes one day after we reported; a judge blocked a similar bill in Florida.
Representative Guy Liebmann (R-Dist 82), said he's disappointed by a judge in Florida temporarily blocking a similar bill Monday, but said support in Oklahoma shows him taxpayers here are tired of paying for those who abuse the system to pay for drugs.
"You and I are paying taxes and all of our money is being diverted to drugs," said Rep. Guy Liebmann. The lawmaker is talking about abusing the welfare system to buy drugs.
"It makes me feel that I am paying for that[drugs]," said Eleazar Rodarte.
Rodarte is not on welfare, but knows of a few people who take advantage of the system.
"A lot of people abuse welfare," Rodarte said.
Representative Liebmann said the controversial proposal to require drug testing before getting help from welfare is receiving overwhelming support.
"Surveys say 87 percent of people support this," Liebmann said. He plans to move forward as soon as session starts in February.
Here's how the bill would work. Welfare applicants who test positive for controlled substances will have to get treatment or give up their benefits for a year.
Drug testing could prove expensive for an already cash strapped DHS, but Liebmann said money saved by those who refuse the tests would help with that.
DHS told News 9 Monday, until the legislation is in the books, it cannot say how this may affect its costs and operations.
"The individual who wants the temporary assistance pays for it, and when they pass they get reimbursed," Rep. Liebmann said.
The first month the law passed in Florida, Liebmann said ten percent of applicants refused the tests, saving taxpayers almost one million dollars.
"It's overcrowded, people are homeless," said Doug Mann. He moved here from Hawaii to retire. He said the law may bring more headache than help to the state in terms of crime or homelessness.
"I don't think it will help the situation, it will make it worse," Mann said.
"Everything has consequences, if we can eliminate giving free money to someone buying drugs we'd be better off," Rep. Liebmann said.
The bill hasn't been assigned a number yet, but representative Liebmann said next session, he will proceed with this bill to require drug testing for welfare applicants.