After surveying several Missouri newspapers and press services, it appears that the Missouri House and Senate will pass some form of required drug testing of welfare recipients and, possibly, lawmakers, judges, and other state officials. A bill requiring welfare recipients to be drug tested passed the House last year but died in the Senate.
Drug testing is labor intensive, costly, and controversial. Each testing kit costs nearly $6.00. Add to this the cost associated with administering a program involving tens of thousands of persons, the time it will require state employees to observe each person while he or she is being tested, and it is clear that this program will necessitate establishing a new state agency. The Kansas legislature considered drug testing of welfare precipitants only and put the cost at $800,000. Missouri is twice the size of Kansas. In 2003, Michigan passed a drug testing law and it was overturned as unconstitutional by a federal court.
During a time when the state is laying off a large number of employees, including welfare administrators, teachers, and prison staff, Missouri has better use of its declining revenues than to support a new controversial state administered drug testing program.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Lowe "Sandy" MacLean is vice chancellor emeritus, University of Missouri, St. Louis, and is active in local political and community organizations, including the Grand Order of Pachyderms (GOP), a service organization for the Republican Party.