Chapter 18 of the General Laws, as most recently amended by chapter 161 of the Acts of 2012 is hereby amended by adding the following section:-
Section 5L (a) The department shall require a drug test to screen individuals who apply for transitional assistance for needy families (TANF) benefits and any parent or relative who receives TANF benefits as a result of such application who has been convicted of a drug-related felony in the last 20 years. The cost of the drug test shall be the responsibility of the individual being tested. An individual who tests positive for controlled substances as a result of a drug test required under this section shall be ineligible to receive TANF benefits for 1 year after the date of the positive drug test unless the individual meets the requirements of paragraph (j).
(b) The department shall provide notice of the drug testing required by this section at the time the individual applies for TANF benefits. The notice must advise the individual that drug testing will be conducted as a condition for receiving TANF benefits and that the individual must bear the cost of the testing. If the individual tests negative for controlled substances, the department shall increase the amount of the individual’s initial TANF benefit by the same amount the individual paid for the required drug test. The department shall advise the individual that the required drug test may be avoided if the individual does not apply for TANF benefits.
(c) Dependent children under the age of 18 are exempt from the requirements of this section; provided, however, that any teen parent who is not required to live with a parent, legal guardian or other adult caretaker must comply with the requirements of this section.
(d) Before the drug test is conducted, the department shall advise the individual to be tested that he or she may, but is not required to, advise the person administering the test of any prescription or over the counter medication he or she is taking. The department will also administer a questionnaire to all who qualify for drug testing under the requirements of paragraph (a). This questionnaire will be developed and implemented by the department.
(e) The department shall require each individual to be tested to sign a written acknowledgement that he or she has received and understood the notice and advice issued by the department pursuant to paragraphs (b) through (d).
(f) The department shall ensure that each individual tested pursuant to this section shall be afforded a reasonable degree of dignity while producing and submitting a sample for the drug test, consistent with the commonwealth’s need to ensure the reliability of the sample.
(g) The department shall specify the circumstances under which an individual who fails the drug test has the right to take one or more additional tests.
(h) The department shall inform an individual who tests positive for a controlled substance and is deemed ineligible for TANF benefits that the individual may reapply for those benefits 1 year after the date of the positive drug test unless the individual meets the requirements of paragraph (j). If the individual tests positive again, he or she shall be ineligible to receive TANF benefits for 3 years after the date of the second positive drug test unless the individual meets the requirements of paragraph (j).
(i) The department shall provide individuals who test positive with a list of licensed substance abuse treatment providers. Neither the department nor the commonwealth shall be responsible for providing or paying for substance abuse treatment as part of the screening conducted under this section.
(j) An individual who tests positive under this section and is denied TANF benefits as a result may reapply for those benefits after if the individual can document his or her successful completion of a substance abuse treatment program offered by a provider that meets the requirements of paragraph (i). An individual who has met the requirements of this paragraph and reapplies for TANF benefits must also pass an initial drug test and meet the requirements of paragraph (a). The cost of any drug test and substance abuse treatment provided under this section shall be the responsibility of the individual being tested and receiving the treatment. An individual who fails the drug test required under paragraph (a) may reapply for benefits under this paragraph only once.
(k) If a parent is deemed ineligible for TANF benefits as a result of failing a drug test conducted under this section:
(1) The dependent child’s eligibility for TANF benefits shall not be affected;
(2) The appropriate protective payee shall be designated to receive benefits on behalf of the dependent child; and
(3) The parent may choose to designate another individual to receive benefits for the parent’s dependent child. The designated individual must be an immediate family member or, if an immediate family member is not available or declines the option, another individual, approved by the department, may be so designated. The designated individual must also undergo drug testing before being approved to receive benefits on behalf of the child. If the designated individual tests positive for controlled substances, he or she is ineligible to receive benefits on behalf of the child.
(l) The department shall adopt regulations to implement this section.
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