The full House voted 82-6 for the amended bill, which now heads to the Senate for consideration.
The bill introduced by Rep. Guy Liebmann, R-Oklahoma City, requires those receiving Temporary Benefits for Needy Families, or TANF, to pay for a drug test and then be reimbursed if they test negative. Those who test positive would not be able to receive benefits for one year unless they successfully complete a drug treatment program.
Under the bill, children whose parents fail a test could receive benefits through another family member or someone appointed by the Department of Human Services, which administers the TANF program.
Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City, successfully amended the bill to require candidates for state and local offices to be tested for illegal drugs before filing for office.
Liebmann said his bill is modeled after a similar measure in Florida that is being challenged as an unconstitutional violation of the prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure. A federal appeals court also rejected a similar Michigan proposal for suspicionless drug testing of welfare recipients as unconstitutional.
Some Democrats rejected the bill, saying it unfairly targets state residents who need help the most.
“Can you tell me why we’re singling out poor people?” asked Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman.
Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, said lawmakers should approve drug testing for corporations and individuals who receive hundreds of millions of dollars in state tax subsidies each year.
“This is class warfare,” Morrissette said. “Drug addiction is a societal problem, not just in our poorest communities, but in our gated communities.”
Rep. Doug Cox, an emergency room physician from Grove who supported the bill, said he hoped drug testing would prevent addicts’ problems from worsening.
“I think this is a good bill. I think this is a fair bill,” said Cox, R-Grove. “If the courts want to overturn it, let ‘em.”