Not that any waste of money bothers repug legislators as long as they get to humiliate poor people.
Josh Israel and Bryce Covert at Think Progress:
Low-income Americans who need to enroll in the country’s only cash assistance program—the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)—face an onerous process. It typically requires extensive paperwork, visits to welfare offices, and sometimes even upfront job searches. Despite these hurdles, the chances of success are slim: out of every 100 families living in poverty, less than a quarter are enrolled in the TANF welfare program.But some states have made the process of getting help even more difficult.At least 15 state legislatures have enacted laws that require drug testing TANF applicants or beneficiaries. Last year, 13 of those testing programs were up and running. That means poor people who try to get assistance in these 13 states have to be screened for potential drug use and, if they are deemed suspicious, must come back to pee in a cup in order to receive benefits. While some states offer treatment programs to those who test positive, in essence, if you can’t prove you’re drug-free, you lose all benefits.Some states test applicants, some just test beneficiaries. All states use some sort of screening to determine who has a reasonable suspicion of abusing drugs. Some states pay a lot for this screening, some pay next to nothing. Those different methodologies and rules lead to wide disparity in how many people were tested and how much they cost.For the third straight year, ThinkProgress reached out to each of these states to ask how many applied for their TANF programs and how many were approved; how many of those were given drug tests; how many tested positive and negative; how many were rejected because they refused or did not show up for a required drug test; and the total cost of the program for 2016.The states’ own data shows the costs were high, yet the positive tests were few.All told, these 13 states tested 2,826 people out of about 250,000 applicants and recipients in 2016. Of those tested, just 369 came back positive. In four states, drug testing uncovered exactly zero positive tests for the whole year. The positive drug test rate out of all applicants, in states where people tested positive, ranged from 0.07 percent in Arkansas to 2.14 percent in Utah; none of them came anywhere close to the national drug use rate of 9.4 percent for the general population.