WV lawmakers push for welfare drug testing

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If you’re among the many West Virginians getting state assistance, the Republican majority in the Legislature wants you to be drug-free.

Bills introduced in the House and Senate would require drug testing for some people who receive welfare checks.

The proposals would require a reasonable suspicion of drug use before a drug test is issued, like a missed doctors appointment or police records.

“It’s time that we incent people to get off illegal drugs and get to work,” said Senator Mitch Carmichael, R- Jackson, the lead sponsor of the Senate version. “To enable that culture of drugs with taxpayer money is inappropriate use of taxpayer money.”

Sean O’Leary of the West Virginia Center of Budget Policy disagreed. He said the bill sends the wrong message and would discriminate against those who need help the most.

“If we want to address substance abuse in West Virginia, we should address substance abuse in West Virginia and not go after the poorest West Virginians,” he said.

Similar measures introduced throughout the county have been met with mixed results. A 2011 Florida law, requiring all state program applicants to be drug tested, was struck down.

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