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Week In Review: Welfare Drug Tests, Family Friendly Schools

Legislators considered measures this week that would mandate drug testing for some welfare recipients and give certain schools "family friendly" designations.

statehouse

Photo: Emily Penguin (flickr)

A view of the Statehouse from Capitol Avenue in Indianapolis.

Indiana House lawmakers this week approved legislation in committee aimed at encouraging parental involvement in education while a Senate panel advanced a bill requiring some welfare recipients to be drug tested.

One of the more controversial bills this session is a measure that requires all recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families dollars to take a written test showing if they are likely to abuse drugs. Half of those who show a propensity to use drugs must take a drug test. Those who fail the drug test must either enter a drug treatment program or lose their welfare benefits.

The bill, passed by a Senate committee, now goes to Senate Appropriations.

The House Education Committee approved a bill creating the family friendly schools designation. The measure would allow the Department of Education to award the label to schools that effectively involve parents and families in their students’ education. The bill’s author hopes the designation will encourage more schools to develop parental involvement programs.

A Senate committee heard hours of testimony about legislation creating a preschool pilot program. The program would give money to families to send their children to high-quality preschools. It is initially limited to a total of $7 million and only five counties. But committee members expressed concerns about the eventual cost of expanding the program statewide.

The bill is up for a vote in the committee next week.

Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith 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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