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Nixon signs bill requiring drug tests for Missouri welfare recipients

Nixon signs bill requiring drug tests for Missouri welfare recipients

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JEFFERSON CITY • Gov. Jay Nixon signed legislation Tuesday requiring some federal welfare recipients to be tested for drugs.

Under the bill, if there is reasonable suspicion that someone receiving benefits from the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program is using illegal drugs, a drug test can be ordered. If the person refuses, or if the test comes back positive, the state would cut off assistance for three years. That person could still receive benefits if they enroll in a treatment program and do not test positive for drugs for six months.

Children would continue to receive welfare payments through a third party if a parent became ineligible.

Critics argue that measure unfairly targets a small group of people receiving federal aid. Supporters say testing ensures that government money is being used for its intended purpose, not drugs.

The measure overwhelmingly passed both legislative chambers earlier this year, with the House voting113-34 and the Senate voting 29-5.

A Michigan law that required welfare recipients to receive random drug testing was struck down as unconstitutional by a federal court in 2003. The court ruled that the law violated the U.S. Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens against unreasonable search.

Florida began requiring drug tests of welfare applicants on July 1.

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