Kentucky lawmaker wants drug tests for welfare recipients

The Lexington Herald-LeaderJanuary 17, 2011 

FRANKFORT — A state lawmaker wants random drug testing of adult Kentuckians who receive food stamps, Medicaid or other state assistance.

Those who fail the test would lose their benefits under House Bill 208, filed by Rep. Lonnie Napier, R-Lancaster.

Napier's proposal has won the backing of powerful House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, but critics say it would stigmatize welfare recipients and possibly harm their innocent children.

"I'm not a hard-hearted guy," said Napier. "I believe there is a need for public assistance for those who need it, but I understand some are using these funds to buy drugs."

Napier said the goal "is to get people off drugs."

"Most employers require it for their workers," he said of drug testing. "We need to do the same for those getting assistance through the state."

Napier said he would alter the bill when the legislature resumes Feb. 1 so it requires the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services to set up mandatory, random testing of the blood or urine of any Kentuckian 18 or older who receives welfare benefits, food stamps or state medical assistance.

There would be exceptions for those who have a prescription for a controlled substance, he said.

Making the testing random would ensure the bill is constitutional, Napier said.

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