OKLAHOMA CITY – Welfare recipients would be required to submit to drug testing as a condition of eligibility under legislation approved by the Oklahoma House of Representatives today.
House Bill 2388, by Liebmann, would require applicants for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to submit to, and pay for, a drug test.
Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, supported the measure.
“The bill is one of many small steps Oklahoma can take to break the grip that addiction has on far too many Oklahomans," Steele said. "If an applicant battles addiction, this action could serve as a wakeup call to get help, get clean and get their life turned around. It would be my preference that denied applicants are directed to substance abuse treatment if they test positive for drugs. There are several substance abuse initiatives in place statewide that can help these individuals overcome addiction.”
Individuals who test positive for drugs would be ineligible benefits for one year unless they successfully complete a substance abuse program within six months.
Should a parent test positive for illegal drugs it would not affect a dependent child’s eligibility for the program.
An estimated 40,634 potential TANF applicants would be impacted by the legislation.
Florida already has a similar law on the books and the Georgia Senate recently passed a similar bill. When Florida implemented its law, the state saved nearly $1 million in the first month of implementation.
It is estimated that Oklahoma could save $582,203 if House Bill 2388 becomes law.
“Even if it didn’t save a dime, this legislation would be worth enacting based on principle,” Liebmann said. “Law-abiding citizens should not have their tax payments used to fund illegal activity that puts us all in danger.”
House Bill 2388 passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on a bipartisan 82-6 vote. It now proceeds to the state Senate.