House Bill 16 sponsored by Rep. Wes Keller will require recipients of State public assistance funds to sign a sworn statement saying they don’t abuse alcohol or use illegally obtained drugs. They also must declare they won’t engage in such actions while they receive cash assistance.
An individual could be denied benefits if he or she makes a false statement. An investigation of applicants or recipients could include drug or alcohol abuse testing.
News flash to all members of the House considering this bill: The majority of Alaska residents receive an annual cash payment from the state known as the Permanent Fund Dividend.
If the goal is not to penalize the poor, elderly and disabled but instead, as proponent Lora Reinbold claims, “It’s simply identifying people who are abusing drugs and alcohol,” then our PFD application form needs to be amended to include the same language proposed in HB 16.
— Mary Miner