West Virginia Governor OKs Drug-Testing Welfare Recipients

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has approved a drug-testing proposal for some West Virginia welfare applicants.

The Democratic governor signed off Wednesday on the three-year statewide drug-testing pilot program for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program applicants. The Republican-led Legislature passed it.

At least 13 states have public assistance drug testing.

West Virginia seeks federal approval to test applicants with a “reasonable suspicion” of drug use.

Caseworkers will decide who demonstrates “qualities indicative of substance abuse,” including drug-related convictions within three years.

Failed tests will require substance abuse treatment, counseling and job skills programs. Subsequent failures will spur temporary and permanent bans.

Proponents say it could help address the state’s drug epidemic.

Opponents say it’s an unconstitutional search and seizure. They point to costs and few positive tests in other states’ programs.