Politics

Nebraska Governor Wants Drug Tests For Welfare Applicants

| by Maura Turcotte

Nebraska residents seeking welfare benefits should be subject to drug testing, Gov. Pete Ricketts recently suggested.

“People are generally very supportive of the idea,” the conservative governor remarked to a Lincoln, Nebraska, radio station, reports Watchdog.org. Ricketts also noted that certain jobs require drug tests.

This is not the first time the idea of drug screenings has been considered in Nebraska: In 2010, former Sen. Charlie Janssen proposed a bill on drug screening but it failed to pass the state Senate.

Besides the preliminary concept, Ricketts currently has no formal strategy to require drug screenings.

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Drug testing for those on welfare has not proven to be effective in other states. For example, Mississippi tested 5,550 people seeking welfare. Only eight failed the test. Similarly, Utah saw only nine tests failed out of the 4,400 tested. In one month, only 10 tests failed out of 800 in Tennessee, reported The Charleston Gazette.

Screening programs are also costly. West Virginia is also looking into mandatory drug tests, but the drug program is estimated to cost more than $3 million — just for the first year, The Charleston Gazette reports.

Gov. Rick Scott’s drug screening program in Florida is costing taxpayers $1.5 million in legal fees. On top of that, the mandatory drug tests were deemed by a federal appeals court to be unconstitutional, violating the Fourth Amendment which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, reports Miami Herald.

Despite these shaky records, many across the country continue to pursue drug testing programs for welfare recipients and applicants.

For example, West Virginia State Senate President Bill Cole is still committed to starting a drug testing program. On the low number of failed tests in other states, told The Charleston Gazette, “What we don’t know is how many chose not to participate because of the threat of the test. Maybe it had a little bit of the desired effect.”

Sources: Watchdog, Charleston Gazette, Miami Herald

Photo Credit: Official Portrait/Nebraska Governors Office