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Tomblin Signs Bill to Drug Test Certain Welfare Recipients

Perry Bennett
West Virginia Legislative Photography
Gov. Tomblin during his 2016 State of the State Address.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has signed a bill that requires the state Department of Health and Human Resources to apply for permission to drug test TANF recipients.

TANF is the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program that provides government benefits to working, low-income families.

If the state receives federal approval, the DHHR would then be charged to administer the three strike system.  

After one failed drug test, a recipient does not lose any benefits, but is required to enter a workforce or rehabilitative program. After a second failed test, the recipients loses benefits until they complete that program, and after the third failed test, he or she loses benefits for life.

Drug tests will be administered to TANF applicants who have been convicted of a drug crime in the past three years or if a DHHR employee believes there is a “reasonable suspicion” that the applicant may be abusing drugs.

The bill takes effect in June.

Ashton Marra covers the Capitol for West Virginia Public Radio and can be heard weekdays on West Virginia Morning, the station’s daily radio news program. Ashton can also be heard Sunday evenings as she brings you state headlines during NPR’s weekend edition of All Things Considered. She joined the news team in October of 2012.

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