Plan to require welfare drug testing passes to Senate

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Welfare recipients would be subject to random drug testing under a bill passed Tuesday in the Indiana House.

House Bill 1351, authored by Rep. Jud McMillin, R-Brookville, would require some recipients of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families to undergo drug testing. The bill passed 71-22. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

McMillin said those who fail drug tests would not lose their benefits unless they refused to get help for their addictions.

“This bill, on all fronts, is an effort to help people,” he said. “It’s an effort to help children. It’s an effort to help those people who find themselves in a hard time and can’t find a job. It’s an effort to help people who unfortunately have lost to drugs and get them help.”

But Rep. Vanessa Summers, D-Indianapolis, said the testing would be too expensive and other states with similar programs have found drug testing to be unconstitutional.

She said the bill doesn’t have a safety net for people who fail a drug test and need help.

“If you’re going to find someone who has a problem, then you also need to find them help,” Summers said.

McMillin agreed there needs to be more treatment facilities to help people who become addicted to drugs, but said there are “children right now who are suffering by being in these environments.”

“If we don’t do anything, what’s the result?” he said.

The bill would also create new restrictions on the food that food-stamp participants in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program could purchase. Under the bill, the state would establish guidelines for food.



  • welfare bill
    I feel the drug testing part is fine i feel that the foodstamp part about not buying snacks and candy (junk food) what if the person has low blood sugar and uses candy when needed out in public my blood sugar drops unexpectedly and so does some of my friends and family does too and we all use hard candy to slowly bring it back up and we all don't have the money with out foodstamps i feel it's not fair
  • Employee Handbook
    PJ--This handbook is for state employees in the executive branch. The legislative side has no such handbook.
  • Rules of the game
    Forget requiring rehab. Make it a requirement to stay drug free to receive government assistance. No rights are being violated because it is a choice to received benefits or not. Those that choose to use illegal substances get to buy them with their own money. Those that are drug-free will receive government assistance.
  • Test them all
    If you are going to drug test welfare recipients, I think it is also fair to drug test the senior executives of any company which receives any state assistance (tax abatements, training grants, etc). Whether it is individual welfare or corporate welfare, we must treat everyone the same.
  • Consider Florida
    After reviewing the Florida case, Indiana's law would almost certainly be held in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Defenders of this law would need to produce current studies concluding that Indiana TANF recipients are prone to drug abuse. One of the major reasons the Florida challenge was successful is that, "only 335 of those individuals subjected to drug testing—5.1% of the total population who were screened—tested positive....The results also showed significantly lower rates of drug use among this population than the rate of drug use among the population of Florida at large, which was recently estimated at 8.13 percent." Consider the fiscal impact of testing all TANF recipients to catch but a few. Consider the costly litigation that will ensue. Consider the embarrassment for the State of Indiana when this law is struck down. Then, consider voting Rep. Jud McMillin out of office.
  • Fiscal conservative my...
    A federal judge has already ruled that a similirar law in Florida as being constitutional. The state legislature is again foolishly (much like with the gay marriage amendment) putting in place legislation that will be tied up courts costing the taxpayers millions of dollars.
  • Yes-Win/Win
    CAM, I would agree that even if it costs more, if it is a wash (or slightly higher for that matter)and those that fail the test are treated, it wouldn't be such a bad thing for society. I'd rather the government spend money on the testing than literally pissing it away on drug addicts continuing their addition. Simply giving the money out without limitations doesn't do the anyone any good. Typical employment in the private sector requires drug testing from time to time, why wouldn't public money be given out with similar restrictions? This isn't the "rich" or middle class picking on the poor, it's just logic folks.
  • Drug Testing
    It is already in the State Employee Guidelines that any and all state employees are subject to drug testing. No new laws to test politicians need to be made. http://www.in.gov/spd/files/eehandbook.pdf
    • win/win?
      It would be nice to be able to compare the costs to treat the people who fail these tests and compare those costs to the savings incurred by denying them free stuff. If it's a wash and the help the addicts receive improves their lives that seems like a good thing. Even if it costs a bit more and the help received by the addicts improve their life it's probably a good thing for the society overall.
    • Miss
      To pass any bill it should include a complete breakdown of where the money is coming from to cover cost of the program. Possibly the GOP wouldn't be so excited if they realized it will cost them MORE IN AID TO THE POOR to kick very, very few people off than it would to support job creation.
    • Drug testing
      I like the idea of drug testing politicians. I wonder, percentage wise, who would score higher -- legislators or welfare recipients?
    • Not to worry
      It will be ruled unconstitutional before we really get the opportunity to waste much of this cost.
    • drug test politicians
      Drug test politicians and make it mandatory they disclose what mental health-related prescription drugs they are taking. I despise both political parties for meddling in our lives. It's time for voters to vote out all incumbents.
    • Cost-Benefit Analysis, Anyone?
      A million and half a year to test three thousand adults. Details here: http://sheilakennedy.net/2014/01/and-you-thought-hjr-3-was-dumb/

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