Drug testing for welfare

PHOENIX �” Arizonans

getting certain welfare benefits

would be subject to random

drug testing under the

terms of legislation approved

Tuesday night by the

Senate Appropriations


Current state law requires

the Department of Economic

Security to test adults who

are on certain programs if

they have reason to believe

that the person is engaging

in illegal behavior. SB 1380

instead requires the agency

to set up procedures to select

a group of people every two

weeks to come in to get tested

for illegal drugs for which

they have no prescription.

The 9-3 vote sends the

plan to the full Senate.

Sen. Frank Antenori, RTucson,

said the expanded

testing makes sense.

“If people are wanting to

gain benefits at the expense

of someone else’s sweat and

labor, they should at least

submit to the fact that

they’re not using those benefits

for the purpose of subsidizing

an illicit drug

habit,’’ he said.

Antenoiri said what he is

proposing is no different

than the random drug tests

given to soldiers and which

are required by many companies

of their employees.

Who would be tested

would be based on the recipient’s

social security number:

Anyone whose last two

digits matched the number

selected for testing would

have to report for testing

within two weeks.

“It’s fair, it’s across ther

board,’’ he said. “It’s not

based on someone’s opinion.’’

Antenori said a similar

plan in Wisconsin has saved

money. He said many people,

called in for their tests,

simply do not show up. That

allows the state to drop them

from the program.

But Sen. Rich Crandall, RMesa,

said there’s a flaw in

Antenori’s argumentn that

the savings to the program

would more than make up

the cost of the testing. He

pointed out the benefits are

paid by ” and the savings

would accrue to ” the federal

government; the state

would end up with the costs.

Foes of the legislation said

they do not believe it is legal.



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