OKLAHOMA CITY - A bill passed the state House today that would require drug testing for all welfare recipients and future elected politicians.
The bill previously mandated only those on welfare as a condition of eligibility but was later expanded to state and local officials.
The bill requires recipients of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to pay for the test themselves within three months of benefit approval.
Negative-testing recipients would then be reimbursed.
Individuals who did test positive for illegal drugs would not receive benefits for a year without completing substance abuse program within six months.
A parent's positive test result would not affect a dependent child's benefit eligibility under the bill.
"The message of the bill is simple: Oklahomans should not have their taxes used to fund illegal drug activity," said state Rep. Guy Liebmann, R-Oklahoma City, in a press release. "Benefit payments that have been wasted on drug abusers will be available for the truly needy as a result of this bill, and addicts will be incentivized to get treatment."
An estimated 40,634 potential TANF applicants would be impacted by the legislation. Lawmakers hope the state could save more than $580,000 if the bill becomes law.
Democratic Rep. Mike Shelton of Oklahoma City successfully amended the bill to require candidates for state and local offices to be tested for illegal drugs before filing for office.
House Bill 2388 passed the House with an 82-6 vote. It now proceeds to the state Senate.
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