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A Peoples Initiative proposal

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Below is an idea for an initiative that I would like to see on the November ballot. This initiative deals with people using taxpayer's money to fund their own pharmaceutical businesses (if you know what I mean). The concept is to put in place a mechanism that subjects public assistance recipients to random drug screenings after they've been receiving that assistance for six months or more. If the recipient fails a screening, they are required to complete a drug class and additional screening. If the recipent refuses to take the class or fails future screenings, then the recipient will be charged and sentenced according to the law.

In the following text, everything in blue is new text that would be amended to the existing RCW (everything in gray). I encourage you to comment on this, especially if you know of any existing programs that makes this redundant or otherwise useless. If you know of a better way to word this to make it stronger, please leave a comment.

It is in the taxpayer's best interest to be secure in the knowledge that public funds are not being used to contribute to the use or abuse of illegal or otherwise controlled substances. Therefore, the citizens of the State of Washington submit the following amendments to Title 74 - Public Assistance:

RCW 74.04.005
Definitions -- Eligibility.

(6)(h) No person may be considered an eligible individual for general assistance with respect to any month if during that month the person:

(i) Is fleeing to avoid prosecution of, or to avoid custody or confinement for conviction of, a felony, or an attempt to commit a felony, under the laws of the state of Washington or the place from which the person flees; or

(ii) Is violating a condition of probation, community supervision, or parole imposed under federal or state law for a felony or gross misdemeanor conviction.

(iii) Is found to have used illegal or otherwise controlled substances, by means of random drug screening.

RCW 74.08.025
Eligibility for public assistance -- Temporary assistance for needy families -- Limitations for new residents, drug or alcohol-dependent persons, and former felons -- Eligibility for federal food assistance.

(1) Public assistance may be awarded to any applicant:

(a) Who is in need and otherwise meets the eligibility requirements of department assistance programs; and

(b) Who has not made a voluntary assignment of property or cash for the purpose of qualifying for an assistance grant; and

(c) Who is not an inmate of a public institution except as a patient in a medical institution or except as an inmate in a public institution who could qualify for federal aid assistance: PROVIDED, That the assistance paid by the department to recipients in nursing homes, or receiving nursing home care, may cover the cost of clothing and incidentals and general maintenance exclusive of medical care and health services. The department may pay a grant to cover the cost of clothing and personal incidentals in public or private medical institutions and institutions for tuberculosis. The department shall allow recipients in nursing homes to retain, in addition to the grant to cover the cost of clothing and incidentals, wages received for work as a part of a training or rehabilitative program designed to prepare the recipient for less restrictive placement to the extent permitted under Title XIX of the federal social security act.

(d) Who agrees to submit to random drug screenings after having been a recipient of public assistance for a period greater than six months. This rule does not apply to persons under the age of eighteen, unless that person is a ward of the state or an emancipated minor.

RCW 74.08.290
Suspension of payments -- Need lapse -- Imprisonment -- Conviction under RCW 74.08.331.

The department is hereby authorized to suspend temporarily the public assistance granted to any person for any period during which such person is not in need thereof.

If a recipient is convicted of any crime or offense, and punished by imprisonment, no payment shall be made during the period of imprisonment.

If a recipient is convicted of unlawful practices under RCW 74.08.331, no payment shall be made for a period to be determined by the court, but in no event less than six months upon the first conviction and no less than twelve months for a second or subsequent violation. This suspension of public assistance shall apply regardless of whether the recipient is subject to complete or partial confinement upon conviction, or incurs some lesser penalty.

[1995 c 379 § 2; 1959 c 26 § 74.08.290. Prior: 1953 c 174 § 38; 1935 c 182 § 12; RRS § 9998-12.]


Finding -- 1995 c 379: "The legislature finds that welfare fraud damages the state's ability to use its limited resources to help those in need who legitimately qualify for assistance. In addition, it affects the credibility and integrity of the system, promoting disdain for the law.

Persons convicted of committing such fraud should be barred, for a period of time, from receiving additional public assistance." [1995 c 379 § 1.]

RCW 74.08.331
Unlawful practices -- Obtaining assistance -- Disposal of realty -- Penalties
-- Abuse of illegal or controlled substances.

(1) Any person who by means of a willfully false statement, or representation, or impersonation, or a willful failure to reveal any material fact, condition, or circumstance affecting eligibility or need for assistance, including medical care, surplus commodities, and food stamps or food stamp benefits transferred electronically, as required by law, or a willful failure to promptly notify the county office in writing as required by law or any change in status in respect to resources, or income, or need, or family composition, money contribution and other support, from whatever source derived, including unemployment insurance, or any other change in circumstances affecting the person's eligibility or need for assistance, or other fraudulent device, obtains, or attempts to obtain, or aids or abets any person to obtain any public assistance to which the person is not entitled or greater public assistance than that to which he or she is justly entitled is guilty of theft in the first degree under RCW 9A.56.030 and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment in a state correctional facility for not more than fifteen years.

(2) Any person who by means of a willfully false statement or representation or by impersonation or other fraudulent device aids or abets in buying, selling, or in any other way disposing of the real property of a recipient of public assistance without the consent of the secretary is guilty of a gross misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than one year in the county jail or a fine of not to exceed one thousand dollars or by both.

(3) Any person who refuses to comply with appropriate treatment programs, or is found to be using illegal or otherwise controlled substances after referral to appropriate assessment, treatment, shelter, or supplemental security income referral services, is guilty of a Class I Drug Offense under RCW 9.94A.517 and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than one year in the county jail or a fine of not to exceed one thousand dollars or by both.

[2003 c 53 § 368; 1998 c 79 § 16; 1997 c 58 § 303; 1992 c 7 § 59; 1979 c 141 § 329; 1965 ex.s. c 34 § 1.]


Intent -- Effective date -- 2003 c 53: See notes following RCW 2.48.180.

Short title -- Part headings, captions, table of contents not law -- Exemptions and waivers from federal law -- Conflict with federal requirements -- Severability -- 1997 c 58: See RCW 74.08A.900 through 74.08A.904.


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