JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) – Some federal welfare recipients will be subjected to drug testing or face losing their benefits in Missouri. Gov. Jay Nixon signed the bill into law Tuesday.
Under the new law, if there is reasonable suspicion that someone receiving benefits from the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program is using illegal drugs then a drug test can be ordered. If the test comes back positive, or if the person refuses to take the test, they could lose benefits for 3 years.
The person may receive benefits if he or she enrolls in a drug treatment program and does not test positive for 6 months. The person’s dependents could receive benefits.
Opponents say the law unfairly targets a small group of people who get federal aid. Supporters say it ensures that government money is being used as intended and not for drugs.
The law passed easily through the Legislature. The House approved it by 113-34 vote and the Senate by 29-5.
Missouri is not alone in drug testing welfare recipients. Florida began mandatory drug testing of welfare recipients on July 1.