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W.Va. lawmakers again weigh welfare drug testing

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia lawmakers continued to analyze more data about drug-testing welfare recipients on Monday, but Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone, said it’s time to decide whether the proposal will really help to curb addiction.

“We’ve talked about this the last three or four years,” Stollings told fellow members of a joint House-Senate committee. “If it’s a good tool in the toolbox, then I think we need to explore it. I think enough time has gone by.”

Earlier this year, the House of Delegates and Senate took up legislation requiring drug-testing for public assistance, but the bills never reached the full chamber in either house for a vote.

 The bills would have required “reasonable suspicion” to trigger drug tests for welfare recipients. The Senate bill would have started a three-county pilot program.

On Monday, a state health official told legislators that an estimated 220 of the 2,700 adults enrolled in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program in West Virginia might use illegal drugs. That estimate was calculated using national statistics.

Lawmakers also learned that the state received 245 referrals related to infants being exposed to drugs since last October. Another 1,181 cases about caretakers using drugs were referred to Child Protective Services during the same time period…

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