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ND House approves addiction screening in public assistance program

BISMARCK-The North Dakota House approved a bill to require people participating in an employment plan under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to go through addiction screening.House Bill 1308, introduced by Rep. Daniel Johnston,...

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BISMARCK-The North Dakota House approved a bill to require people participating in an employment plan under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to go through addiction screening.

House Bill 1308, introduced by Rep. Daniel Johnston, R-Kathryn, passed Tuesday, Feb. 14, by a vote of 77-12. Employment plan participants who are identified as being "at-risk for an addiction" would be referred to a treatment service.

An employment plan is a written agreement that establishes the TANF participant's employment goals and steps to allow their household to become self-sufficient, according to the state Department of Human Services. TANF, a federal program that's administered by the state, provides cash assistance to qualifying low-income households.

The bill doesn't include language about denying people public assistance. A similar bill failed in the Senate last week.

Johnston said in an interview Tuesday morning that he was "trying to create a little bit of accountability for the taxpayers."

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At least 15 states have passed legislation on drug testing or screening for those receiving or applying for public assistance, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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