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Welfare Drug Testing Bill Scaled Back

Changes approved by the Senate committee may have left the program too minimal to have a meaningful impact.

michael young

Photo: Brandon Smith

Sen. Michael Young (R-Indianapolis), the Senate sponsor of the bill, and Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville), the bill's author, testify before the Senate Health Committee Wednesday.

Brookville Republican Representative Jud McMillin’s bill was originally going to require all welfare recipients to take a written pre-screening tests to determine a likelihood of  addiction.

Recipients who showed that likelihood were then eligible to be randomly drug-tested with their welfare benefits potentially at risk after several failed tests.

But the Senate Health Committee approved an amendment that only makes welfare recipients with previous drug convictions eligible for drug tests.

The bill’s Senate sponsor, Indianapolis Republican Michael Young, says the legislation is trying to ensure that people getting money from the government aren’t using drugs:

“We’re just trying to help people with this bill and not trying to harm anybody.  Representative McMillin has, in place, several steps you have to go through before you can lose your benefits.” he says.

If a recipient fails a drug test, they must seek treatment to retain their benefits and have two consecutive clean drug tests within a four month period.

If they don’t seek treatment or fail to produce the two clean tests, they lose their benefits for three months.

They can then reapply by passing a drug test.  Children of welfare recipients who lose their benefits would still receive welfare dollars through a third party.

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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