Bill wants to test welfare recipients for alcohol, drugs

By Naomi Klouda
Homer Tribune

Photo by Matt Buxton/Fairbanks Newsminer - Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, inspects a vial of treated crude during a presentation by Fairbanks-based Heavy Oil Solutions, a company that is pioneering the use of super-heated, super-pressurized water to transform sticky, costly crude oil into valuable light crude.

Photo by Matt Buxton/Fairbanks Newsminer - Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, inspects a vial of treated crude during a presentation by Fairbanks-based Heavy Oil Solutions, a company that is pioneering the use of super-heated, super-pressurized water to transform sticky, costly crude oil into valuable light crude.

Health and Social Services Committee will be taking a look at House Bill 16, an act relating to citizenship requirements and an alcohol impairment and drug testing program for applicants and recipients of welfare services.
The bill gives the Department of Social Services discretionary tools for substance abuse screening. Sponsor Wes Keller, R-Wasilla, justifies the bill because “the cost of substance abuse in Alaska is staggering. Crime, child abuse, broken homes, domestic violence, cost of business, auto and industrial accidents, poor productivity, chronic health problems all have a causal relationship with substance abuse.”
People applying for jobs often submit to drug and alcohol testing, he writes.
The bill hasn’t had a hearing yet, but is receiving positive feedback, a Keller aide said.

Streamlining process chugs on

House Bill 77 is making progress in multiple hearings, ending up in the Rules Committee for a vetting on Thursday.
The bill proposes to stream line permitting activities like mining and drilling, a piece of legislation Cook Inlet’s small new producers say would help them get to natural gas faster than if they are held up in the regulatory process.
Opponents believe it does not adequately protect the environment, decreases public participation in the permitting and water reservation process, and that there are other ways to reduce the state’s permitting backlogs such as pre-screening applications. 
Rep. Paul Seaton proposed three amendments to the bill. The first would require “significant damage” instead of “significant and irreparable damage” to disqualify an activity for a general permit under this legislation. 
“There was not enough support to pass this amendment.  I put forward an amendment that would allow people with water reservations to submit them to authorized agencies for consideration and possible continuation,” Seaton wrote in his weekly newsletter.
That amendment had the support of the Division of Mining, Land, and Water and passed.  An amendment that a fellow representative introduced, which Seaton supported, would allow tribes to continue to have the ability to hold water reservation in accordance with federal subsistence priorities. 
But after this amendment failed to pass, public testimony was closed and the bill passed out of committee without objection.

Fighting Frankenfish

Alaskan Congressman Don Young introduced legislation that would prohibit the Secretary of Interior and the Secretary of Commerce from authorizing commercial finfish aquaculture operations in the federal Exclusive Economic Zone unless specifically authorized by Congress.
“If not properly managed, farmed fish can be a significant threat to the health of Alaska’s wild stocks and the health of our oceans,” Rep. Young said. 

Invasives and derelict boats

Last Tuesday, Rep. Paul Seaton’s aquatic invasive species rapid response bill, HB 89, was opened for public testimony at the Fisheries Committee.  The primary concern of people uncertain about the bill is the possible impact of invasive species treatment on private property, especially mariculture operations, he said.
Yet overall, the bill received significant support from people concerned about damage caused by unmitigated invasive species.
Thursday the committee heard a presentation on derelict vessels in Alaska  Such vessels cause problems that are difficult and expensive to deal with. 
Wyn Menefee of the Department of Natural Resources gave a presentation about the challenges.  Not only are they expensive to deal with, but there is little authority for the state to get involved until there is an acute problem like the vessel sinking. Harbormasters from Homer and Juneau also spoke to this problem. No legislation is yet proposed.

Home appliance HB 35

On Thursday, public testimony will be taken on HB 35, the bill proposing low interest loans for homeowners interested in converting their appliances for energy purposes, such as natural gas.
The hearing is in the House Finance 1:30 p.m. at the Homer Legislative Information Office. Call Charlene at 235-7878 for more information.

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Posted by on Feb 20th, 2013 and filed under More News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

9 Responses for “Bill wants to test welfare recipients for alcohol, drugs”

  1. vhoozer says:

    HB16 is a dangerous bill. Fraught with possible corruption and government overreach. Its a small baby step from there to include obese citizens or a number of other human maladies to be tested for, for they may also render them unemployable or state assistance may “fuel” their addiction.
    While i’m not a big fan of easy welfare ( 11 states now have more people on welfare than they do employed) there is no honor is kicking someone when they are down.
    Lets keep government out of our homes and private lives.

    • Kearbear says:

      Keep Government out of people’s homes and people’s lives? Then keep government money out of supporting them. If people are willing to accept government checks then they should be required to meet certain requirements, among those requirements, a person should be required to prove they are drug free.

    • BillyH says:

      Can you please tell me how we are kicking a person when they are down by telling them to be drug free and sober? I do believe it is illegal to use drugs whether you are taking handouts or not!!!

  2. franks says:

    What are you scare of Vhoozer? If you are getting a handout from my taxes (I don’t consider these entitlements), you should be subject to drug and alcohol testing. Not too many employers will hire these people if they are on drugs or constantly intoxicated Seems to me that this will help to get people off public handouts. Good Job to the legislature for getting this right!

  3. foreign_observer says:

    Testing for drugs & alcohol is not a bad thing however, I’d like to see it applied to legislators first – along with strict term limits.

  4. vhoozer says:

    Drug testing welfare recipients implies that they are more likely to use drugs than the rest of the population. According to the ACLU, 70% of all illicit drug users ( and higher for alcohol users) ages 18-49 are employed full time.
    Drug testing does nothing to stop drug use, but can be demoralizing to those tested. I also believe it may violate the 4th amendment.
    It can also be argued that this policy leans too heavy on ethnic groups who may have a higher percentage of welfare recipients.
    I’m all for reducing welfare handouts but not in this way.

  5. BillyH says:

    Again I disagree with you. In my occupation we are subject to random urinalysis. That is a condition of employment. Does that mean I’m being picked on or demoralized? If welfare recipients want a free handout then it’s not hurting them at all to be tested. Just like at work, if you test positive…no more paychecks or in the welfare world, no more freebies.

  6. Mark says:

    This has been tried in other states and what has been the outcome? The program costs more than it saves. It is expensive and not effective. Expansion of government for no real gain, great policy!

  7. vhoozer says:

    I just dont think we want to subject a whole class ( in this case, the poor) of citizens to government intrusion. Mark is right it has been tried before and failed. In Michigan they only found 3% of those tested to have hard drugs (not marijuana) in their system. Hard drugs are easily cleansed out of the system, marijuana is harder to cleanse. And this was at great expense to Michigan.
    I am also confused about its goal. Is it to reduce the number of people on welfare or to help them get off drugs?
    Our biggest welfare checks go to corporations like GM, Wells Fargo or Haliburton. Maybe they should be held to some kind of higher standards.

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