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Proposed Law Would Mandate Drug Testing Of Nevada Public Aid Recipients

Under a proposed law being considered by the Nevada state legislature, people receiving public aid there would be forced to submit to drug tests conducted on a random basis. The legislator who proposed the statute, State Senator James Settelmeyer, claim that he is doing so to make sure that welfare recipients with a drug problem get needed assistance, rather than for the purpose of simply punishing them.

He also said, however, that the tests could help make sure that the aid funds being distributed were not spent for illegal things, such as drugs. He may have trouble getting his proposed law enacted, however, as he has so far not managed to find a single co-sponsor. His efforts to pass similar proposals earlier in the state were unsuccessful. He is a member of the Republican Party, while the Democratic Party currently has a majority in the state legislature.

The proposal would mandate a drug test to be administered orally. Those who tested positive for drugs would not necessarily lose their benefits, but the continuation of their benefits would be contingent in them entering a rehab program to be weaned off illegal drugs. If they were found to still be using drugs after completing such a program, then they would be barred from programs such as welfare, Medicaid and food stamps.

Three states, Arizona, Florida and Missouri, currently require aid recipients to pass drug screening tests. Last year, 24 different states considered and rejected similar proposals. A federal statute enacted in 1996 allows individual states to choose to have such a requirement but does not mandate that choice.

The oral test proposed to be used for testing in Nevada would only cost approximately $10, rather than past estimates of expenses as running as high as $400 per test. Those authorized under Nevada law to use marijuana for medical purposes would not be required to enter rehab programs or lose benefits.