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Panel backs bill for Indianapolis welfare drug testing

By Hey :-), Jan 23, 2014 | | |
  1. Hey :-)
    A bill that would require screening for possible drug use among welfare recipients is moving forward in the Indiana Legislature after a House committee voted to advance the measure Wednesday.

    The legislation, which the committee passed 8-4, would require Indiana residents receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families be screened through a questionnaire and be drug tested if they show a likelihood of addiction. Benefits would continue if they test positive as long as they enter treatment.

    Implementing the bill would save the state about $521,000 over two years and cost $1.42 million in the same time, according to estimates from the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency. Similar bills failed in 2012 and 2013.

    Welfare drug testing laws in other states already have been struck down as unconstitutional. Last December a federal judge ruled against a Florida law to drug test welfare recipients.

    Bill sponsor Rep. Jud McMillin of Brookville tweaked the Indiana bill to avoid a similar battle. He said adding the screening questionnaire is enough to give probable cause for a drug test.

    The test asks individuals to agree or disagree with 67 statements including, "I usually 'go along' and do what others are doing" and "I think I would like moving to an area I've never been before."

    Rep. John Bartlett of Indianapolis, who voted against the bill, said he chose not to apply for welfare benefits when he was unemployed for more than a year in the 1970s because the questions he was asked made him "feel like trash."

    But McMillin said the testing is needed accountability that residents have long called for and could provide help to addicts.

    "Who we're singling out are people who are using drugs," McMillin said during the meeting. "Those folks should be singled out, not for negative purposes, but to try and get them help."

    An amendment also removed a mandate for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to show photo identification.

    Committee chairwoman Rebecca Kubacki of Syracuse said photo identification is impractical because of the cost and inevitable battle with the federal government.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture last year denied a request to require electronic benefit transfer, or EBT, card users in Maine to show identification, and administrators from SNAP criticized Massachusetts for a similar effort.

    McMillin said he might try to reinsert the requirement later, if only to make a point to the federal government.

    By Summer Ballentine
    Photograph usscreening source; tests
    January 23 2014
    Indianapolis AP, San Antonio


  1. tidruid
    I know there are a select few who abuse the social security system but I really believe a large chunk of people who have lost their jobs or who are disabled really do not flaunt the fact that they receive benefits. It is upsetting that people feel that it is okay to shame people who receive benefits. I completely support public assistance to those who are struggling and who are disabled/elderly and or need help supplementing their income to feed themselves or their families.

    It is the few people who purposely go and manipulate and abuse the public assistance system that cause many issues and misconceptions like this to come about. A lot of people jump the gun and assume that if someone is receiving benefits or food stamps that they are automatically abusing the system, lazy, a drug addict without even knowing the back story that got the person in that position in the first place.
  2. Rob Cypher
    Indiana state Rep. Jud McMillin (R) insisted on Thursday that he was not “focusing on poor people” with a bill that would strip welfare benefits from people who failed to pass a drug test.

    On a Fox & Friends segment called “Entitlement Nation,” host Brian Kilmeade noted that critics of Indiana’s drug testing bill had argued that it singled out and stereotyped the poor.

    “I think it’s going to save a whole bunch of money,” McMillin told Kilmeade. “And it certainly isn’t focusing on poor people. What it focuses on is people who are using drugs.”

    This claim puzzled the Fox News host.

    “If you’re on welfare, usually you don’t have that much money,” he reasoned. “So it might not be wrong to label them poor people.”

    “Well, it might not be wrong to label them less — you’re correct, they don’t have as much money as some other folks do,” McMillin admitted. “But just because they don’t have that money doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make sure taxpayer dollars are used efficiently when they do get it.”

    “And you think it will affect between 20 and 30 thousand people?” Kilmeade pressed.

    “At least,” the lawmaker replied. “But again, that’s discounting all the tangential effects you will see once you start getting people back in the workforce.”

    David Edwards
    Raw Story
    April 16, 2015

  3. Name goes here
    Initially, I supported this idea whole heartedly. I work my ass off to pay for others to leech of my tax money. Why should these people be allowed to spend the day getting high while unemployed?

    I've moved to the though process of families no longer able to feed their kids or put food in their stomach. While I don't like the idea of paying for other people's habits, we're talking about saving so little money (and off the poor at that) it's not worth the effort.

    The entire welfare system needs an overhaul. There are people with multiple food stamp cards and illegal immigrants getting benefits. Fix the broken system before spending money to save a little.
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