Welfare Drug Testing Bill Dies, Some Say It Isn’t Over

The legislature has voted down a bill three years in a row that would drug test welfare recipients, but some legislators say they will continue to propose it.

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.

Despite legislation requiring some welfare recipients to be drug tested dying in the waning moments of the session, legislative leaders expect the issue to make a comeback in the future—even though it’s been voted down the past two years.

The proposed bill would have required welfare recipients to take a written pre-screening test that determines a likelihood of addiction.  Recipients showing that likelihood or those with drug charges or convictions in the last year would have been subject to drug tests.

The measure passed the House but failed to garner enough votes in the Senate.  Senate President Pro Tem David Long says the measure just wasn’t ready this session.

“In the end, this wasn’t thought through as well as it could have been and I think it needs work,” Long said. “I do think that if you ask the Hoosier public, they do think it’s appropriate.”

The measure has failed in each of the last three sessions, but House Minority Leader Scott Pelath says he doesn’t think that will deter its proponents.

“I suspect that as long as it’s possible to get some in the public to believe that this is a cost-effective program that’s going to lift people out of drug abuse when it’s really just costing us more money and doing the opposite,” Pelath said. “As long as it’s a good bumper sticker solution, we’re probably going to have to keep dealing with it.”

Brookville Republican Representative Jud McMillin, the bill’s author, says he won’t be deterred by the Senate’s rejection of the issue.

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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