West Virginia welfare recipients may be required to take drug tests to qualify for any form of public assistance. According to Opposing Views, House Bill 2021 has been introduced by Delegate Michael Moffatt following claims regarding the epidemic of accelerated drug abuse among welfare recipients. Are they abusing privileges?
Moffatt, a West Virginia state representative, recently revealed a common complaint among potential employers. Apparently, a substantial number of employment candidates are denied jobs due to their inability to pass drug tests. Many people who receive benefits are able-bodied Americans ranging in age from 18-49. Moffatt, who represents District 22, believes the implementation of drug tests for welfare recipients will be beneficial for both the state and welfare recipients.
The state will be able to increase the possibility of eliminating recipients who are allegedly taking advantage of the system. State officials also hope drug testing will make welfare recipients more cautious of their actions. Decreasing the possibilities of drug use may also better prepare welfare recipients for the workforce.
“We have such a drug abuse issue right now, and so many of our employers are complaining they want to hire people, but people can’t pass a drug test. Our people who are getting benefits needs to be able to be able to be ready for work,” said Moffatt.
Moffatt also stressed the importance of combating the drug abuse epidemic and helping to rehabilitate welfare recipients to stand on their own without any assistance from the government. “We need to incentivize getting off drugs any way possible. We need to help with drug rehab, we need to do a much better job with drug rehab in the state,” Moffatt added.
Sam Hickman, executive director of the West Virginia Chapter of the National Social Workers Association, also echoed similar sentiments in support of Moffatt. He also cited a number of other ways the state of West Virginia could benefit from drug testing welfare recipients.
“Well that money would be better spent on higher touch services within the community extended out to where people are, reaching them and providing them with the education and assistance they need to turn their lives around,” said Hickman.
As expected, House Bill 2021 has sparked quite a debate on social media. Of course, there are many Americans who support West Virginia’s efforts to combat drug abuse, citing the importance of drug testing to maintain employment. But others argue that the stipulation is a bit extreme. However, others cited a number of political aspects of the drug tests that could be financially problematic for the state. Many social media users have taken to Twitter with their opinion of the drug testing of welfare recipients.
West Virginia is preparing to follow seven other states that have chosen to incorporate drug tests for welfare recipients. According to Mic.com, Arizona, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah have all passed bills mandating drug screening for public assistance. At this point, the West Virginia bill is only in the proposal state, so no laws have been passed to implement the directive. But lawmakers are hoping that the concept is embraced.
Do you think welfare recipients should be drug tested? Is the state of West Virginia making the right choice? Share your thoughts.
[Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images]