Committee recommends no drug test for welfare checksBISMARCK — The House Appropriations Committee recommended against a bill that would require a drug test for individuals benefitting from a federal welfare program.
By: TJ Jerke, Forum News Service
BISMARCK — The House Appropriations Committee recommended against a bill that would require a drug test for individuals benefitting from a federal welfare program.
House Bill 1338 is asking for $595,828 for the upcoming biennium to cover the costs of testing those receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. From that money, $15,000 would be used for the actual drug tests of an estimated 6 percent of new enrollees assumed to have a history of drug use. Another $60,000 would be used to cover the cost of 6 percent of the 798 current recipients who are not already being tested and found to be reasonably suspicious.
The bill would include $420,000 for changes that would have to be made to the program’s eligibility system and another $100,000 for legal costs associated with clients that may appeal the results of the drug test or challenge a violation of their Fourth Amendment right to unreasonable search and seizures.
The bill was sent out of committee with a 16-4 do not pass recommendation and will be taken up by the full House.
To file a court case in North Dakota, a plaintiff will have to reside in the state, or the cause of the court case would have to take place in the state under a bill heard Wednesday.
House Bill 1042 was crafted after the 2012 interim judiciary committee conducted a study, and found cases that have been tried in the state had nothing to do with the state or its residents.
“If there’s no connection between the case and state, why should taxpayers bear the cost of the judicial system?” said Rep. Lawrence Klemin, R-Bismarck.
The bill passed through the House unanimously and was heard Wednesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Current law only requires an action must be brought in a county where one or all of the defendants reside. If none of them live in the state, action must be heard in the county the plaintiff provides in the summons.
The bill would help prevent “forum shopping,” which is used to try a case outside someone’s home town where they are too well known, if an attorney doesn’t care for a particular judge or if another judge’s views are similar to an attorney’s.
School districts could be able to apply for matching grant funds from the state to help cover costs to increase safety.
Under Senate Bill 2267, the state would allocate $10 million to the Department of Public Instruction to allocate grants for the purchase and installation of alarms, cameras, electronic door locks, intercom systems, metal detectors and other safety mechanisms.
The bill would allow DPI to give $25,000 to eligible school districts and a pro-rated share of any remaining funding.
The bill’s prime sponsor, Sen. Lonnie Laffen, R-Grand Forks, said many schools were built in the early 1900s and have expanded since, adding multiple entry points where problems could occur.
He said schools are unable to address security-related concerns because they are put toward the bottom of a priority list with federal requirements put towards the top. He added that schools also have a limited maintenance fund to address security issues.
The bill was sent to the House by a 30-17 Senate vote on Wednesday.