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OCPA Wants to See Mandatory Drug Testing for All Welfare Recipients
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK-- A new Oklahoma law requires drug screening for all welfare applicants. The law puts a long practiced policy at the Department of Human Services (DHS) into writing.
"I'm surprised it hasn't always been in effect," said Tammy Streeter, who supports the new law.
Opponents to the drug screening law say it sheds negative light on families facing tough times in a rough economy.
"I just disagree with it fundamentally," said Libby Hart, who is against the new law, "I think that it perpetuates this stigma against people on welfare."
Sen. David Holt (R-OK) who co-authored the policy, says people who apply for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) can only stay on welfare for five years.
"It's supposed to be there so you can get your life back together," said Holt, "and at the bare minimum, we think that it's not possible to get your life back together while you're still using illegal drugs."
Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma (ACLU-OK) says the drug screening law is not necessary.
"I think the folks that are putting these measures out there are out of touch with the struggles families are going through right now," said Kiesel.
Oklahoma is just one of more than 20 states that have implemented or considered similar policies for welfare recipients.
"I think it's something most states should consider exploring," said Dave Bond, Director with the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA).
Bond says writing the drug screening practice at DHS into law is a step in the right direction, but OCPA wants to see mandatory drug testing for all welfare recipients. Bond cited states, like Florida, that have tried to implement blanket drug testing policies have saved millions of dollars.
Bond explained, "if we're going spend those dollars on a program to help needy families, needy individuals, needy children, we might as well do all we can to make sure we're getting the most bang for the taxpayer buck."
Kiesel disagrees, he cited mandatory drug testing for all welfare recipients violates a person's fourth amendment right.
"You have to have a probable cause," said Kiesel, "you have to have some suspicion and being poor does not satisfy that suspicion requirement."
Kiesel says the ACLU will keep a close eye on the new Oklahoma policy to ensure no rights are violated.
Posted: Wednesday, November 14 2012, 09:29 PM CST
IN OKLAHOMA NEWS
Education board to consider waivers for Moore
May 23, 2013 01:15 GMT
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The Oklahoma State Board of Education is expected to consider waivers for public schools in the tornado-ravaged community of Moore.
The State Board of Education meets Thursday in Oklahoma City. It's slated to consider waivers for Moore Public Schools relating to instructional days and filing deadlines for certain reports.
The Central Oklahoma chapter of the American Red Cross is also expected to attend the meeting to discuss storing donated supplies after a monstrous tornado hit Moore Monday and killed 24 people, including 10 children.
Seven of the children were pulled from the rubble of the Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore.
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