State Lawmaker Wants Drug Tests For State Aid Recipients

Thursday, February 10th 2011, 12:40 pm
By: News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- State Rep. John Bennett (R-Sallisaw) has filed legislation requiring those who receive state aid to undergo routine drug tests as a condition of eligibility.

House Bill 1083 would force people applying for state-provided assistance to be screened for illegal drugs when they apply for benefits, and then every six months following.

"I realize there will be legal challenges to this idea, but from a common-sense perspective, it's a no-brainer," said Bennett. "If you work for me as a paid employee and test positive for drugs, I can fire you. Well, those receiving state services are being paid by the taxpayers of Oklahoma and we should have the right to fire you if you abuse drugs."

If the applicant passes the drug test, the cost of it would be deducted from their first payment. Any applicant who failed or refused to take the test would forfeit eligibility for state assistance for the next 90 days. Applicants who failed a drug test while receiving benefits would be ineligible for further benefits for one year.

Bennett once worked on a drug task force for a local sheriff's department, and said his constituents are worried about drug dealers receiving state benefits.

"Everyone knows who the local dopies are and it is extremely frustrating to law-abiding citizens to see those people subsidized with our tax payments. People should not get paid to do drugs on our dime," Bennett said.

House Bill 1083 could be taken up soon after the Oklahoma Legislature convenes on February 7.