Lawmaker proposes testing for public assistance

A Wasilla lawmaker has proposed allowing drug testing for certain recipients of public assistance.

Rep. Wes Keller, in a sponsor statement, says Alaska substance abuse costs are staggering. He says while the Department of Health and Social Services must provide public assistance to those in need, it’s not appropriate to provide assistance without knowing whether that will be fueling an addiction problem.

HB16 would allow “random and suspicion-based testing” of adult recipients of cash assistance for illegal drugs and alcohol that impairs their ability to work or find work.

The department could deny or suspend assistance to those who test positive and don’t comply with a treatment program, or those who refuse testing.

Third-parties could manage aid for those subject to suspension or denial if their families are eligible.