NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A4474
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the social services law, in relation
to drug testing of certain public assistance applicants and to repeal
certain provisions of such law relating thereto
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: To provide that all applicants for
public assistance benefits over the age of 18 years old are urine tested
for drug and alcohol abuse.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1 provides that all applicants
shall be screened via a urine drug test. Upon a positive test result,
such applicant shall immediately be denied receipt of public assistance
benefits and referred to appropriate substance abuse services. Such
applicant shall be deemed ineligible for public assistance benefits
until substance abuse services are utilized and a negative drug test
result is obtained. As long as the person participates in substance
abuse services and continuously meets drug test requirements, the house-
hold will remain eligible for benefits. Any person who refuses to
submit to a urine drug test shall not be considered for public assist-
Section 2 provides that this act shall take effect immediately.
JUSTIFICATION: Current law provides that applicants and/or recipients
for public assistance benefits must submit to a screening process for
alcohol and/or substance abuse only if such abuse is suspected by the
local social services district. Leaving drug abuse determinations at the
discretion of a public assistance benefits screening worker may cause
drug and alcohol abusers to slip through the cracks. Without addressing
the root causes of addiction, it may be impossible for public assistance
eligible persons to ever escape the welfare cycle, remaining financially
dependent upon our system for the rest of their lives. It is important
to screen all applicants in order to accurately assess their needs and
perhaps get them off the welfare rolls in a more timely and permanent
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: A11708 of 2010.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: According to the
Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Temporary Assistance
recipients totaled 543,003 in June 2010.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy estimates average price of a
drug test ranging between $10 and $30, depending on the drug, and alco-
hol tests range between $1 and $10. Therefore, the estimated cost of
drug testing all public assistance applicants and recipients would be
approximately $20 million annually.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately.