Proposed Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients


West Virginians on public assistance could soon be forced to take drug tests if House Bill 2021 passes this session.

“We have such a drug abuse issue right now, and so many of our employers are complaining they want to hire people, but people can’t pass a drug test. Our people who are getting benefits needs to be able to be able to be ready for work,” said Delegate Michael Moffatt who represents District 22. 

Moffatt is one of the co-authors of a bill that would require West Virginia Works, recipients to pass a drug test, if they are suspected of abusing illegal substances. The bill is intended to protect West Virginia children and help addicts get job-ready.

“We need to incentivize getting off drugs any way possible. We need to help with drug rehab, we need to do a much better job with drug rehab in the state,” Moffatt added. 

Moffatt and other legislators believe the bill will save state dollars, but family advocates say they would rather see the money going towards drug rehabilitation programs, especially for West Virginians in rural areas.

“Well that money would be better spent on higher touch services within the community extended out to where people are, reaching them and providing them with the education and assistance they need to turn their lives around,” said Sam Hickman, the Executive Director of the West Virginia Chapter of the National Social Workers Association. 

For now the bill is only a proposal, and Sam Hickman hopes that is where it stays. Moffatt says each drug test would cost between $55 and $75 per person.
DHHR would reimburse anyone who tests negative.

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