Drug tests for welfare recipients finds more controversy

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Tuesday, more fallout from a bill that passed the state house Monday. House Bill 23-88 would require those applying for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, to submit to drug testing.

If they fail they would be ineligible for one year, unless they successfully complete a rehab program within six months.

We’re now learning that Florida, a state where a similar bill is now law, is finding this law to be a challenge.

A federal judge temporarily halted drug-testing Florida welfare recipients at the end of October last year.

The judge ruled the testing amounts to unreasonable search and seizure.

The Oklahoma ACLU’s Executive Director says the same is true with our state’s proposed bill.

“We’re creating a suspicionless search by the government which is prohibited by the Fourth Amendment. The only level of suspicion created here is a family finds themselves on tough times and they have to apply for assistance to help them and their families make it through the tough time.”

The Oklahoma Bill’s author, Guy Liebmann, said Tuesday that Florida’s law is close to reinstatement.

“They’re about back on track with it to start using it again,” he said.

And he says that our bill won’t cost Oklahoma a thing and save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

“Absolutely not. There will be no tax hikes. Staff here says it will save $580,000.”

Kiesel disagrees and points to Florida.

“Contrary to what we’ve been told, Florida has actually lost $200,000 before a federal court shut it down as a violation of the Fourth Amendment. So this is a program that doesn’t work and is nothing more than an insult to poor Oklahomans.”

The Oklahoma Bill is now heading to the Senate for consideration.

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