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Proposal to drug test welfare recipients

April 29, 2009 6:02:52 AM PDT
People who receive welfare in California would be subject to random drug tests under a bill put forward by a state senator. The idea for the bill SB384 grew out of an essay contest sponsored by Sen. John Benoit each year, entitled "There Ought to Be a Law," in which constituents submit suggestions for legislation.

One of the contest winners was Riverside teenager R.J. Fields, who was born premature, addicted to heroin and weighing just over two pounds. Benoit said the baby's health was the result of his mother's drug use while pregnant.

A similar bill based on Fields's idea failed to make it out of committee last year.

Under the proposal, the state would be required to pay for the drug testing, but supporters say the state stands to save more money than it would spend.

The bill stipulates that welfare recipients would have the choice of entering a drug treatment program or losing their benefits.

The bill was being heard Tuesday in the Senate Human Services Committee.


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