NORTHEAST, Miss. (WCBI)- The welfare drug testing bill would require anyone applying for temporary assistance for needy families to fill out a Questionnaire. If the answers show possible drug use, applicants would undergo a drug test.
“Drug testing welfare recipients is certainly a controversial issue,” said Brother Rogers, Associate Director for the Stennis Center for Public Service.
Bill supporters believe drug testing helps people with substance abuse problems by allowing recipients to get treatment. Critics say it profiles them.
” On the one hand, if you have people who are looking at it from the government giving out money perspective, they think that welfare recipients who are on drugs should not get welfare money. But, on the other hand if you are seeking to get government assistance you’re thinking if there’s a need, why are we singling out one group of people and picking on them,” said Rogers.
Money is another factor.
” Where is the money going to come from to do the drug testing and of course if we drug tested lots of people where’s the money going to come from from that. So anytime you advocate something new that cost money that’s going to be controversial as well,” Rogers.
It’s also controversial on the street. People in our area are split on the issue.
“I think that they should be because the system is pretty much taken advantaged of some times so I think it would help those that work that contribute to the system feel better about what they’re doing,” said Eupora resident Essie Austin.
“It will crack down on a whole lot of people smoking marijuana and other drugs or whatever because you can guarantee probably 9 out of 10 people on welfare are using some kind of illegal drug, so I think they should pass the bill,” said Starkville resident Tiffnie Ellis
“I think it’s a matter of honesty. There are several factors that I think should be considered in there. I’m for help to the people. I’m an advocate for that, but I still think there would have to be certain guidelines to go by,” said Starkville resident Dot Langston.
“If welfare is here to help these people typically the people that need help, statistics just show that they have higher drug uses and things like that, especially in the lower class so it is kind of confusing to me that they would require a drug test to prohibit or restrict how much they receive or how much help they would get,” said MSU Student Aubrey Pohl.
Governor Phil Byrant says he supports the bill.