Drug-screening law more punitive than beneficent

Kansas’ new law to drug test some recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cash assistance or unemployment benefits is narrower than the one that sparked a long court case in Florida, so it should lead to fewer tests and legal problems. But it requires that welfare applicants or recipients be screened “when reasonable suspicion exists” that they are using a controlled substance, which seems a subjective standard at best. It will cost the state an estimated $1 million next year and require four additional state employees. And as Gov. Sam Brownback signed the bill Tuesday, it was disappointing to see him join those claiming the law’s main purpose is to help people by providing treatment. Who doubts that for many of the 29 senators and 106 representatives who voted for the bill, the motivation was more punitive than beneficent, and based on the myth that drug abuse is rampant among welfare recipients?