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Senate Kills Bill On Drug Testing For Welfare Recipients

The author of the bill that would have mandated drug testing for welfare recipients say he hopes to include it in another bill this session.

Drug Test Kits

Photo: animalvegetable (Flickr)

The Senate failed to pass a bill that would have required welfare recipients to pass a drug test before receiving any financial assistance.

A Senate committee Wednesday defeated a bill mandating drug testing for welfare recipients.

The legislation would deny welfare benefits to recipients who fail a drug test. The committee split the vote five-five, and a bill needs more than a tie to pass out of committee. Two Republicans, Greenfield Senator Beverly Gard and Evansville Senator Vaneta Becker, voted against the bill. Becker says she was concerned there would have been a lack of drug treatment options for people who failed the test. She says the cost of the project makes it better suited for next session.

“When you’re spending a million dollars, plus the cost for treatment, I think it would probably be better to come back next year when we’re actually discussing money, see what the state’s fiscal condition is and see how we could address it then,” Becker says.

The bill would have established a pilot program for three counties before the drug testing program could expand to the entire state. The bill’s author, Brookville Republican Representative Jud McMillin is not giving up. He says he wants to find a way to put the language into another bill this session.

“What we’re doing is trying to study this issue, and I don’t want to kick the can any further down the road without at least starting to study the issue and that’s what we’re trying to do here,” he says.

Since the bill passed the House, its language can be put into other legislation in conference committee later this session. McMillin says he will work with House leadership to see if that is an option.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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