A welfare drug screening bill was signed into a law late Wednesday. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin says if you want a welfare check, you can take a drug test.
Oklahoma resident Ricky Pulley receives some assistance himself and says he agrees that requiring drug tests for welfare recipients is a good idea. He says he has no tolerance for those who try to take advantage of the help.
"Do what you have to do in order to take care of your family and if you're abusing the system, you're not taking care of your famliy, you're taking care of your selfish needs," Pulley says.
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services estimates that 5% of the adult recipiants in the state test positive for illegal drug use. That's a number Governor Fallin wants to lower with this new welfare drug testing bill.
The bill allows the Department of Human Resources to conduct drug tests on applicants if they have reasonable suspicion the person is using. DHS officials in Ottawa County says about 3,500 adults, 19 years and older, and 20,000 children receive assistance from the program.
"In the whole sceme of things it helps cut back on child abuse and neglect," says Jennifer Barnes, the Assistant Ottawa County Director of DHS. "We are a service agency and we want people to get the help they need with this. I think it's a positve thing because if there is illegal drug use we want those people to be free of substance abuse and live healthier more independent lives."
This new law will effect only those who are applying for temporary assistance for needy families. It is a law to ensure that welfare checks are not being used for drugs.
"That's why it's important because it is our tax dollars they are giving these people that need help," says Oklahoma resident Gary Hilton. "I don't disagree they don't need help or anything, but you know they should abide by the rules and not be drug addicts."
Before DHS allowed those who tested positive to continue to receive assistance while receiving drug treament. The new law, that will go in effect November 1, will not allow the assistance but it will still provide drug treatment.