The Oklahoma House passed House Bill 2388, on a vote of 86-6, sending the bill on to the desk of Gov. Mary Fallin.
HB 2388 will call for drug testing of applicants for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and withhold payments to those who will test positive for illegal drug use. The bill passed by the House, however, has already undergone changes in the Senate. While the original version of the bill called for testing for everyone applying for aid, the Senate modified it such that not everyone will be subjected to testing.
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) currently continues to provide assistance to recipients who test positive for illegal drug while undergoing treatment, according to Sen. David Holt, Senate author of the bill. HB 2388 will halt payments while still providing treatment.
Sen. Holt shared: “We do have drug testing in the bill, but only where there is suspicion when the person is on illegal drugs… It sends a message that this is a temporary program paid for by people’s neighbors so that they can get back on their feet. It’s just a common-sense idea that if you are using illegal drugs, this probably isn’t the best time to be using TANF. It’s probably a waste of our money and your time and you need to come back when you’re clean.”
The bill requires that adults who apply for TANF be screened for drug use by the DHS, which will cover the cost of screening. Child-only cases, as well as underage parents, will be exempted from testing, and parents who test positive can name an alternative person to receive benefits, ensuring that children of erring parents may still continue to receive benefits.
Applicants undergoing treatment may reapply for benefits six months after their date of denial.