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Lawmakers consider drug testing welfare applicants

Sen. Mark Kirkeby, R-Rapid City, addresses a Rapid City crackerbarrel crowd. Kirkeby said those who receive assistance from taxpayers should not be able to use the money for drugs. (Denise Ross/Republic)

PIERRE (AP) — A South Dakota Senate committee is considering a bill sponsored by Sen. Mark Kirkeby, R-Rapid City, that would require state officials to develop testing procedures that would determine whether people applying for welfare programs are using illegal drugs.

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The bill would require the state Department of Social Services to develop a procedure to screen people for drug use when they apply for financial assistance programs. The department would report the initial results of the testing before next year's legislative session.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee holds a hearing on the measure Wednesday.

Similar bills were rejected by lawmakers two years ago.