Pubdate: Thu, 28 Jan 2016
Source: Sioux City Journal (IA)
Copyright: 2016 Associated Press
Author: James Nord, Associated Press
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - A South Dakota measure that would require adult 
welfare applicants under age 65 to pass drug tests before receiving 
food stamps or cash assistance failed in a House committee Thursday.

The Health and Human Services committee voted not to send the measure 
to the House floor. Under the plan, welfare applicants who tested 
positive would have been barred from receiving such benefits for a year.

Rep. Lynne DiSanto, a Republican from Rapid City who sponsored the 
bill, said she wanted to create accountability for welfare recipients 
and that such testing could deter drug users from seeking public 
assistance or encourage them to get sober.

"If you have a parent that is receiving a subsidy through the state 
and they're using it to buy drugs, it's not getting to the children," 
she said. "We need to identify those families."

The measure would have required applicants to pay to be tested and 
allowed those who tested positive to contest decisions to deny them benefits.

Department of Social Services Secretary Lynne Valenti, who testified 
against the measure, said states with such requirements incur 
considerable expense implementing them yet find relatively few people 
failing the drug tests.

Valenti said federal law prohibits states from imposing extra 
conditions such as drug testing on recipients of the Supplemental 
Nutrition Assistance Program, which averages about 100,000 South 
Dakota participants per month.

Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard has called the measure "somewhat 
insulting," saying that while he doesn't condone drug use, it would 
be unfair to require welfare beneficiaries to pass drug tests while 
not requiring that of people who receive other government benefits.

GOP Rep. Jacqueline Sly cited benefits such as college financial 
help, farm aid and corporate tax subsidies as other forms of 
government assistance that don't require drug testing.

"I feel that this is a very narrow focus, and it's focused on some of 
the people who are struggling to get their lives together," she said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom