A requirement that those suspected of drug use pass a drug tests before getting temporary public assistance is poised to pass the House, despite one aspect critics have latched on.
Critics contend there is a glaring flaw in the bill that would require drug tests of TANF recipients.
“Mr. Speaker, if we look at the fiscal note that’s on our laptops there, you will see that it does have a $2 million fiscal note,” Rep. Margo McNeil, a Democrat from Florissant, stated during House floor debate. McNeil is among the opponents who claim that the state simply can’t afford to spend $2 million to root out drug abusers who might be on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
That fiscal note, or the price tag that accompanies every bill debated in the legislature, became a matter of contention during the debate in the House. Critics focused on it. Supporters attempted to dismiss it, one going so far as to claim it wasn’t an honest fiscal note.
Sponsor Ellen Brandom, a Republican from Sikeston, objects to price tag attached to her bill, which she claims is inflated.
“But when you think that you can buy a drug test for $3, then we would hope that it could be administered for considerably less than fifty-five,” according to Brandom.
Brandom says the method used to calculate the fiscal note is flawed. First, the cost of the drug tests is too high, according to Brandom. She says the state can obtain accurate results for much less. Brandom says that, in addition, the fiscal note assumes that all 33,000 Missourians on TANF would undergo a drug test. HCS HB 73 & 47 would require drug tests only of those suspected of using drugs. Brandom claims a price tag of half a million dollars would be more accurate.
The House will likely give the bill final approval early next week. Then, it journeys to the Senate which has given the idea a lukewarm reception, at best. House Speaker Steven Tilley (R-Perryville) expects the Senate to be more accepting this year.
“I think that the House spoke pretty clearly this week and I think the Senate should act on it,” Tilley says.