Welfare Drug Test Bills Clears Committee Wednesday

The proposed legislation requires all recipients of welfare dollars to take a written test that determines if they’re likely to abuse drugs.

Drug Test Kits

Photo: animalvegetable (Flickr)

Opponents of the bill say it could drive at-risk kids deeper into poverty.

Opponents of legislation that would require some welfare recipients to be drug tested say the bill risks driving children deeper into poverty. But, the measure cleared its first hurdle towards passage in the Senate Wednesday.

The proposed legislation requires all recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families dollars to take a written test that determines if they’re likely to abuse drugs. Half of those who show a propensity for addiction are then drug tested.

Those who fail the drug test are given the option to enroll in a treatment program or lose benefits. Once in the treatment program, they must have two, consecutive clean tests within four months to keep their benefits at the end of the four-month period.

Cathy Williams represents the Children’s Coalition of Indiana. She says when a parent loses their benefits, their children lose the benefits too.

“If you are cutting off assistance from the household you may put the families in a situation where they can’t keep their lights on, their heat on, their water and that will put the kids at more risk,” she says.

But the bill’s author, Brookville Republican Representative Jud McMillan, says the state has allowed people to use children as shields to avoid addressing the issue of drug abuse.

“Either we’ve got a situation where kids shouldn’t be there anyway and we’re exacerbating it by allowing drug use to continue or we’ve got a situation where kids can do just fine without their parents using tax dollars to subsidize their drug habits,” he says.

The Senate Health Committee passed the bill Wednesday. It now moves to the Senate Appropriations committee.

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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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marge-Young/513810765 Marge Young

    I thought conservatives didn’t like psychoanalysis. Who is going to make up these “poor people” test questions? Who will be grading these tests? I bet this ill-conceived program won’t save the state of Indiana a dime. I have a better idea. Why don’t we test everyone who has a drivers license in Indiana to see if they would be likely to drive drunk? Everyone would have to take a psychological evaluation to see if they were fit to drive. I bet the Indiana Legislature would never vote for that!

  • http://www.facebook.com/amanda.smith.5855594 Amanda Smith

    Are you kidding, or stupid? It wouldn’t be a written test asking what they know about heroin, it would be a blood test to see if the person is abusing drugs.

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