No vote taken on bill for drug tests for recipients of public aid

Despite motions to do so Thursday, the House Health and Welfare Committee did not vote on a bill that would require Kentuckians who receive public assistance to submit to random drug testing. The bill did not receive a vote because there is no money to pay for the drug testing and rehabilitation that would be required, said committee chairman Tom Burch, D-Louisville.

Maysville native Ruth Chamblin spoke at the meeting, saying her 12-month-old great-niece might still be alive if such a bill had been made law, the Lexington Herald-Leader‘s Beth Musgrave reports. Chamblin’s great-niece died after she was allegedly beaten by her niece’s then-boyfriend. Fearing investigation, Chamblin’s niece neglected to take her daughter to the doctor for four days after the alleged attack, and the baby consequently died. The family was on public assistance at the time, and the boyfriend was reportedly a drug abuser.
House Bill 208, sponsored by Republican Rep. Lonnie Napier of Lancaster, right, would require random drug testing for people who receive Medicaid, food stamps and other kinds of public assistance. Those who test positive on the drug screening would have 60 days to get treatment. They would continue to receive public assistance in the meantime, but if they repeatedly failed more tests their assistance would be cut off. The reasoning behind the bill is to stop people from selling food stamps to buy drugs, Napier said.
Napier said the drug testing would cost about $1.5 million a year. One Idaho study has concluded drug testing for state-aid recipients is inefficient. (Read more)
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