Should welfare recipients be required to pass drug tests?
Wed, 13 Mar 2013 08:57:35 GMT —
A controversial proposal is making its way into a House committee in Lansing once again.
Michigan lawmakers are considering a bill that would require welfare applicants and recipients to pass drug tests. House Bill 4118 will be considered Wednesday by a House committee.
The bill would establish a program of suspicion-based substance abuse screening and testing for Family Independence Program applicants and recipients who are at least 18 years old.
A similar bill won approval last year in the House but died in the Senate. Michigan briefly ran a pilot program to drug test welfare recipients in 1999.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures , at least seven states have passed legislation regarding drug testing or screening for public assistance applicants or recipients. Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah have a screening process in place.
Some apply to all applicants, others include specific language that there is a reason to believe the person is engaging in illegal drug activity or has a substance use disorder, others require a specific screening process.
Florida's law was stopped by a district judge. In Feb. 2013, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's ruling to halt enforcement of the program.
Tennessee's bill requires the department to develop a plan of suspicion-based testing and report its recommendations to the legislature by Jan. 2014.
After Michigan launched its pilot program in 1999, the American Civil Liberties Union sued and a federal appeals court affirmed a lower court's order halting the program.
Part of the legal challenge was based on the claim that constitutional rights were violated because testing was done without "individualized suspicion."
UpNorthLive asked our twitter followers how they feel about testing welfare recipients for drugs.
Sara Ankerson replied: "yes BUT ONLY if they test positive, their kids get taken away because how else will they feed them?"
There is also a conversation on UpNorthLive's Facebook page on the controversial bill.wrote: " YES!!!!!! If they need someone else to buy their food,...then they sure as hell should not be able to buy themselves drugs!!!!!!!!!!!!" left this comment: " I used to automatically say yes to this question, but when you start thinking about it, what does it solve? It's a HUGE waste of money to test everyone, and people who know they're being tested will do whatever they can to pass the test, so it will rarely catch anyone but the dumbest 1%. But if the caseworker has reason to believe a person is on drugs, taking away their grocery card won't do anything to help their children. If they take and fail the test, we do what, take their children's food away because they smoked some weed? There are better solutions than wasting tax dollars giving urine tests to a bunch of single moms."
Do you think welfare applicants and recipients should be required to pass drug tests to get benefits? Tell us "Your Point of View" by voting in the poll below and leaving your comments.