Steve Rogers

About Steve Rogers

Assistant News Director/Assignment Editor; degree in finance and administration from Yale University; 35 years experience in journalism.

Governor Signs Welfare Drug-Testing Bill

JACKSON — Governor Phil Bryant on Monday signed House Bill 49, a measure which establishes a screening process to help adult applicants to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program who are struggling with substance abuse find treatment resources.

“The TANF program is a safety net for families in need, and adding this screening process will aid adults who are trapped in a dependency lifestyle so they can better provide for their children,” Gov. Phil Bryant said. “This measure will help make a positive difference for families impacted by substance abuse. I thank the House and Senate for their leadership on this issue, particularly Sen. Terry Burton and Rep. Sam Mims.”

Under the measure, adult applicants to the TANF program who are otherwise eligible for cash assistance through TANF will complete a written questionnaire to determine the likelihood that the applicant struggles with substance abuse.

If the individual’s responses to the questionnaire indicate the likelihood of a substance abuse issue, the applicant is required to take a drug screening.

If the individual tests positive for a controlled substance, he or she may still receive benefits through the TANF program by agreeing to follow an employment plan that includes:

• receiving treatment for substance abuse; and

• testing negative on follow-up screenings for controlled substances.

Non-compliance with the guidelines makes an adult recipient ineligible for cash assistance under the TANF program and ineligible for reapplication for:

• 90 days after the first occurrence within one year; or

• 12 months after a second occurrence within one year.

The bill will take effect July 1, 2014.