House bill 1174 would require those receiving TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) and/or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) cash payments to submit to some kind of drug screening, If Social Services has reason to believe the recipient are using some kind of illegal drug. Simply put, if you want a welfare check you have stay clean.
Having been in ?the system? for a short time, I can speak with some authority. TANF and SNAP were designed to help to people who are down on their luck for whatever reason. Like the name implies, it is supposed to be temporary, and just enough to get by on until circumstances change. It is not supposed to be a way of life, or total support.
What I witnessed in the parking lot at Social Services office in Sioux Falls totally disgusted me. People were walking of the office, getting into a newer SUV with kids and large flat screen TV in the back seat. These people have learned how to work the system. They have learned how to get more from being poor, then someone working 60 hours a week. If someone from Social Services suspects drug use, there is very little they can really do. If they have answered all the right questions on all the right forms, they get what they want.
The goal of Social Services should be to get people to take care of themselves, to the point that there will not be a need for their services. We all (well most of us) know that drug abuse leads down a very slippery road; the end result is often not good. Having people stay clean, and become productive citizens will not only do them good, our society as a whole will be enriched.
I know there are people who will say that this bill will endanger children. Hogwash. The money given to these families is to be used for housing, clothing, pay utilities, etc. If the family uses some or all of that money to buy illegal drugs, isn?t that putting the children in more danger?
This bill is not perfect (very few are) I would like some kind of provision to make help available to get clean and stay that way. Maybe Social Service can work with other agencies, (job service, Volunteers of America, etc.) to really help people get a fresh start. Somehow the programs also need to be tailored to meet the needs of the various families, a one size fits all does not work. Each family is different and each situation is just as different.
Unlike its sister bill HB 1268, these people receive cash payments, whereas Medicaid is paid to medical professionals, with the exception of title XIX. (Travel expenses reimbursement) People should not have to submit to a drug screening to receive medical care, unless they are being treated for addiction, and even that should be between the doctor and patient .
On a side note: The Dakota Women have posted :
Instead of a war on poverty, several legislators seem intent on declaring war on those in poverty. HB 1174 and HB 1268 mandate drug testing for a variety of state aid recipients, but still don?t require drug testing of South Dakota legislators, who are clearly on something.
Just about every job I have held required me to submit to some kind of drug screening. It would be a great idea if our legislators did the same, and make the results public. After all they work for us, or I thought they did.