Governor signs bill allowing drug tests for state assistance

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Governor Mary Fallin has signed legislation allowing the state to conduct drug tests on those receiving state assistance through a program known as TANF, Temporary Assistance For Needy Families.

The governor signed the measure Wednesday.

Some are saying it's not fair while others say if you have nothing to hide, it's no big deal.

Beth Pearson is a TANF recipient who supports the measure.

She said, "I'm ok with it. To me, if I had a problem taking a drug test, it's because I'm not going to pass it."

Pearson has been enrolled in the state's temporary assistance for needy families program for a few years now.

Beth is also a recovering addict.

She said, "When I was in my addiction, I used food stamps to buy drugs. It's what people do."

She now takes a drug test weekly to show she's clean.

She said TANF helped her get clean and paid for her to get an education.

Beth said, "It gave me the chance to go to school, take care of my kids and to better myself."

TANF recipients can already be asked to take a drug test.

The new law would allow the state to require a test for those who aren't meeting program standards.

Sheree Powell with the Department of Human Services said, "This would not allow us to give benefits to a TANF recipient if they test positive for drugs."

Currently, if someone tests positive for drugs they continue receiving benefits, even while in rehab.

Under the new law, the benefits would stop and they would have to wait at least six months and complete a recovery program to reapply.

Beth hopes other TANF recipients will see the value in the new law.

She said, "I think if you are wanting to better yourself and the state's helping you then do a drug test."

Those who receive food stamps, Medicade or Soonercare are now concerned this will impact their assistance.

The Department of Human Services said that is not the case; those recipients should see no change in their program. 

The drug testing won't cost the state any more money.

The funds are already provided through DHS' current budget.

We contacted the Governor's office for comment on the signing of this bill.

They told us they were not able to talk about it today due to meetings regarding our state budget.

Get more info on TANF here

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