JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - Mississippians who receive assistance from the state could soon have to take a drug test before getting benefits. And testing positive for drugs doesn't necessarily mean benefits will be cut off.
Here's how it will work: According to House Bill 49, adult applicants to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program will have to fill out a questionnaire to determine if they could possibly have a substance abuse problem.
If a red flag is raised, the applicant will be required to take a drug test. Applicants who test positive could still receive TANF benefits if they agree to follow an employment plan that includes receiving treatment for substance abuse. They must also test negative for drugs in follow-up screenings.
"This measure will help make a positive difference for families impacted by substance abuse," Governor Phil Bryant said Monday after signing the measure into law. "The TANF program is a safety net for families in need, and adding this screening process will aid adults who are trapped in a dependency lifestyle so they can better provide for their children.
Applicants who fail to follow the new guidelines will be deemed ineligible for cash assistance. They also won't be allowed to reapply for 90 days after the first occurrence within one year, or for a year after a second occurrence within one year.
The law goes into effect July 1, 2014.