Food restrictions back in Indiana welfare bill draft

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A contentious measure to screen and drug-test some welfare recipients and to limit food-stamp use to only "nutritional" foods has resurfaced in the Indiana General Assembly with little time left to vote on the bill.

Bill author Rep. Jud McMillin, R-Brookville, reinstated provisions in a proposal circulated Wednesday to screen all applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families for the likelihood of addiction. Certain applicants then would be drug-ested.

The draft also adds back in a ban on buying foods not deemed "nutritional" by the state — such as sugary drinks or candy — with money from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Senate changes to the bill eliminated the food benefits restrictions and limited drug tests to only applicants with prior drug convictions.

The constitutionality and feasibility of addiction screening and limits on SNAP benefits have been questioned as the bill moved through the House and Senate.

Critics say the bill would unfairly target the poor, while supporters argue it safeguards taxpayer dollars from being used to buy drugs and increases accountability for public assistance recipients.

The Legislature is expected to conclude its session Thursday.


  • Resp to Elaine
    Right off the top: I've never collected a single cent in any program that is considered "welfare". Some tax credits, yes, and a Pell Grant during first semester of college. But the total balance is waaaaay in the favor of the Government, especially the State.---On the programs themselves: they are a response to the economy. Recessions with high unemployment are meant to be "temporary", yet we still have a persistent one. I'm sure we could have a lively discussion of the causes, but the fact that we are still in the slump is the reason why States NEED to maintain these programs. There aren't enough good paying jobs for all that would need them.---Everyone wants to cut waste. But the proposals won't do it, any more than voter ID laws have stemmed fraud. All it manages to do is make life harder for those that need assistance, or vote in the case of the ID laws.
  • Don't We All Make Choices?
    I read the outline of "drug testing" recipients, and it's a complete waste of time. Making restrictions on the type of food that can be used as nutritional supplement is an excellent idea. For one thing, it might cut down on obesity rates. Watching kids come into the store and swipe their benefits card to get a soda and bag of chips is not helping anyone. I can attest as a fully functioning adult who grew up poor but without food stamps that my family went without such foods, and I turned out fine. My esteem is in tact. Offer families nutritious healthy food. If they don't want it, they don't have to take it.
  • What's your answer MarkusR?
    You seem to have a better idea in mind to keep the lid on this system intended to assist TEMPORARILY, folks that need a hand. I'd sure like to hear it. Your response seems to indicate you may be a "user" of the system and don't want anyone making waves. The madness of government waste (and I mean TRUE WASTE, not helping the disadvantaged) has to be stemmed. I can't afford it.
  • Torn
    I'm very torn on this particular issue. I've been behind people in line who were buying HUGE cakes and attempting to use foodstamps and I overheard that the rationale was for a child who was dying. I've also been behind people who were using foodstamps to buy lots of food (ribs, barbecue sauce and individual bags of Fritos) that they very proudly said they were going to cook and sell in their yards. In addition, I've been behind the people who were told they couldn't buy dog food with their benefits and then said to one of the children, "OK, go back and buy a big package of ground beef. We'll just cook that for the dogs..." A very difficult issue with which to deal, I will agree...
  • Welfare Reform
    Welfare should be used as It was intended. It's common knowledge that there are a significant number or recipients who milk the system to varying degrees. Would passing a properly constructed bill inconvenience some people? Possibly, but not as much as holding down whatever job necessary to get off he welfare rolls. I think we as a country are compassionate people as a whole, but that compassion ends for those who are able but wish to live off other peoples hard work.
  • Other programs have this
    When it comes to the food aspect of this bill, it makes complete sense. If you are receiving government funds for food that's fine, but you should be spending it on food that won't create other problems with your health. Look at the WIC program that families/single parents use. You are restricted to certain items.
  • Maybe it doesn't go far enough
    What? No requirement to wear a burlap sack so that the better-off folks can feel superior? And, I guess the cost of administering the screening and testing will come out of Jud's own pocket book?

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