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Plan to drug-test Indiana welfare recipients stalls

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A bill aimed at requiring some Indiana welfare recipients to undergo drug testing failed to clear a legislative committee Wednesday after concerns were raised about the possible $1 million cost for a state agency to start the program.

The state Senate's health committee tied 5-5 on the bill, stalling it for now. The bill earlier passed the House and its sponsor said he'll look for a way to revive it later in the legislative session.

The bill proposed a three-county pilot program for testing those receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds. It would require testing for recipients who agency officials have found reasonable suspicion of drug use and random testing for other recipients, with a range of penalties up to loss of benefits.

The House approved the bill 81-15 last month after adding a provision pushed by Democrats requiring lawmakers to submit to drug tests before receiving perks like parking spots and laptops. Democrats argued that Indiana's poor should not be the lone targets of drug testing.

Opponents told the Senate committee they worried that too few drug treatment programs were available to help poor people who might fail the tests and maintained that the testing policy would put a financial strain on the state's Family and Social Services Agency.

"The benefits are clearly not worth the cost," said Lucinda Nord of the Indiana Coalition for Human Services.

The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency estimates that starting the drug testing program would cost FSSA between $810,000 and $1.1 million in its first year and between about $145,000 and $340,000 in the second year.

Republican Rep. Jud McMillin of Brookville, the bill's sponsor, said the agency's ongoing costs wouldn't increase much by expanding the testing program to all 92 of the state's counties, which is when the state would see greater savings from not paying welfare benefits to drug users.

"After rolling it out to the remainder of the counties, I believe the savings that we see will be disproportionate to the continuing costs," McMillin said.

Republican Sens. Beverly Gard of Greenfield and Vaneta Becker of Evansville joined the committee's three Democrats in voting against the bill. Gard said she supported the drug testing concept, but believed the program's cost needed more review.

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  • We don't want to discriminate
    "We don't want to discriminate against the poor", so instead we discriminate against the working class. If I have to piss in a cup for a job that I pay taxes out of to pay for someone else's lifestyle, then they should piss in a cup to get that money. If they are clean, no worries. Just like when I randomly have to piss in a cup
  • really people..
    really you all should be shamed, im currently a single mother of one, and im currently on help and section 8 and i dont do drugs, and my son has everything he needs and i work too and go to college parttime and yet im still having the hardest time, you shouldnt judge all people who are on welfare, not all are the same!!!! and shame on your for judging people,says in bible not to judge!!!! your just as bad for judging people just like people who do drugs, all sins are the same and all have the same outcome.,.so really think befor you all open them mouths.
    • I say we protest!
      If they wont drug test people on welfare who need to be tested, then I say we who WORK for our money protest that we DONT have to be drug tested. Two can play the game of stupidity. It saddens me because I watch these people use and abuse the system, my neighbor brags about the things she recieves and yet, her nails are always done, shes always wearing a new set of clothes and the worst part, shes always messed up on some kind of pills!! I wish they atleast had a anonymous line people could call to report these "poor" people shopping at the mall with their welfare money!
    • save more than the million
      The savings for this from who would loose benifits would out weight the cost many times over. Lucinda Nord is not in the real world. The working class many times go tru drug test. The poor are not a target, our system makes them lazy.
    • Please Vote YES
      My company will make hundreds of thousands of your hard earned tax dollars, providing drug test data that will prove one thing, and one thing only. The majority of welfare recipients are not using your tax dollars for drugs. However, we will make a lot of money before the legislature drops the program in 2016. Thanks for your support in this matter. We will hire a few additional lab workers for this boondoggle, I mean "important legislation" and the services to follow.
    • Can't feed em don't breed em
      Not saying that every one on welfare is a loser, but I know a lot of people that are. They drop out of school, have kids in their teens, hang out in the streets, use their welfare check to buy "Jordans", Newports and get their nails done, smoke pot, go to the grocery store and fill their cart to the brim with cans of soda, chips and sweets. Take a trip to your local supermarket on the 1st and see them in action! If you want welfare the government should have access to medical and criminal records as well as random hair drug test. If you have section 8 there should be random home inspections to make sure you don't have one of your "baby daddy" living there illegally. Wipe out "food stamps" all together and stick to W.I.C. They give coupons for basic food items like: Milk bread, cheese, peanut butter,beans, cereal, juice, baby food, baby formula. Really the basics is all you need to survive! Open that program to men and the elderly and there you go. Problem solved. People get fed. It's cheaper. Many of these same people who claim that their kids will starve if not for food stamps it is simply not true! When women gives birth, they are offered welfare and W.I.C along with the application for the new child's S.S card right in the hospital! HOW NICE-HUH? I know person who gets W.I.C for 2 kids as well as food stamps, medical card and she is able bodied. She turned down a 50,000 job because she lives comfortably, especially since her kids father makes the same amount. Add free formula, free medical and extra spending cash..what reason does she have to get off the system? Not 1.
    • Question????
      Why shouldn't they be tested? Why can a "child" have three kids under 5 yrs old, be able to live rent free under Section 8, receive food stamps and free medical, paid schooling and not have to be drug free? And why does this "child" drive a 2010 car? And we (the people paying our taxes to support this "child") can't say she has to earn this support? I am sorry, everyone deserves a helping hand, but handouts with no guidelines is why there are so many people on welfare that are fully capable of supporting themselves and why we have a class of people that are bred to live off this system in the future.
      • uds optional?
        Think about this folks: Welfare does not only include TANF, but foodstamps(ebt) Medicaide, rent assistance, and entitlements ad nauseum. The average drug addict gets a check, state medical care including medications to treat addiction, various pain meds/benzos and free psychotropic meds as well. Even if we drug test them, all these drugs will be ignored because they are provided by your tax dollars hard at work. The difference between welfare recipient drug addicts and the average street drug user is that the average drug user can't afford to get a legal high with pharmaceutical grade drugs. Understand the way drug screens are calculated: a positive result is not counted if there is an active prescription for the drug class in question. So they can get a rx filled, use it up in one day and get more off the streets, test positive and waive their rx in your face as they laugh all the way to the bank. Don't beleive me? check out the nearest community mental health or hospital for yourself.

        We are a nation addicted to one drug: More of whatever it is we think we want!
      • Not going to work
        This law is modeled after a similar law in Florida. Guess what happened in Florida? Turns out that drug use was so low that it actually cost Florida MORE to run the drug tests then it saved in benefits. Florida lost $250,000 because the program couldn't pay for itself.
      • it should be worth it
        I have to pay for a bartender's license to make money, why can't they pay for their drug test to get their welfare money? The can make a deal, they can go test 2 months instead of every month if they pass two in a row.
      • Let me get this straight?
        We don’t want to spend a million to save a billion? How about failure to pass a drug screen (not urine, but hair follicle) would mean failure to get any kind of assistance.
        If working people want to use drugs and still give 110% to their job and their employer is satisfied that’s their business and I don’t care what they do as long as I’m not paying for it. But when people sit just around on their nasty laurels all day because they are too strung out to get a job and can’t even take care of their own children and my tax dollars are expected to pay for it…that is MY BUSINESS. Please, spend the MILLION or however much it takes as long as the government follows through, kicks them out of the system and forces them to take responsibility for their own bad choices. Make it their choice to sink or swim; do or die…and if they make the wrong choice it’s their problem, not the taxpayers'.

        I believe we have a responsibility to help our fellow man, with the goal in mind to help them to be able to help themselves. But I don’t believe that we have any obligation to support parasites whose only objective in life is to take money (from a government supported by law-abiding, hard working citizens) that they didn’t earn and drink it, inject it, sniff it or suck it and never give anything back. I was always taught “you make your bed, you lie in it” and don't expect taxpayers to be responsible for your mess.
      • It'll Never Work
        I spent years providing pro bono legal representation to indigent people, including many welfare recipients. While I support the idea, I don't think it will work. The people who are on welfare and doing drugs really, and I mean really, know how to game the system. Welfare fraud was rampant and probably still is. You might catch a few, but there are some pretty clever "entrepreneurs" in that crowd that will easily find a way around it and they are proud of themselves. It's infuriating.
      • Are you kidding?
        First of all the article said "SOME" welfare recipients. What does this mean? The money they would save by denying those on drugs would surely pay for the implementation of the testing. The comment about their kids starving may be somewhat true but if the parents are spending their money on drugs, what is the difference. The children obviously are not getting what they need anyway.
      • Welfare Equality
        I have to take a drug test to earn the money that has been forced from my paycheck to pay for the entitlements. I insist that those who enjoy the fruits of my labor be drug free.
      • Drug testing
        I have to pass a drug test for my job and if I don't I have no job and no job means no money. Why is it so hard for those on the welfare system to have to follow the same rules as everyone else. Taxpayers should have a say as that is our money they are getting. It will not make it any worse for the kids because if the parents are on drugs the kids are being taken care of anyway. The entire system needs to be overhauled and those on Welfare need to be held to the same standards as the working people of Indiana.
      • Treat the problem...
        Would it make sense to try and treat drug abuse rather than cut people off that have serious problems? Certainly, it makes less financial sense to keep filling up prisons. Do you know how much "hard-earned taxes" it cost us for each inmate? A lot more than welfare. A lot more.
      • Why are the taxpayers paying for the test?
        It would seem to me that the recipient of the aid should have to prove they qualify to receive the aid meaning the cost should come out of the aid they are going to receive. Or they could pay cash. No paying with food stamps allowed.
        • Can you believe this
          "Punish the monkey, let the organ grinder go." Indiana has the worst state legislature in the country.
        • Good idea - will never work though
          I can't see our fantastic legislators ever agreeing on this - they haven't done anything else productive this year or last. When you quit giving the welfare addicts their checks, do their kids starve? There would be no way to implement this functionally. Especially since our elected officials can't even get a smoking ordinance out the door. Do the legislators get tested???
        • Better yet - put them to work
          Better yet, AFTER you drug test them, put them to work. Whether it be cleaning up roadways, working at community programs such as Habitat, Gleaners,etc.
          If I don't pass a drug test, I do not get hired. Consequently, I don't get paid.
          You play (with drugs) we DON'T pay!
          That includes everyone who gets a check regardless of whether it's a paycheck or assistance check.
        • Cost
          Please publish the names of the legislators who voted AGAINST this bill. I would like to campaign against them this fall.
        • Doesn't work
          They did this in Florida, and the cost of the testing was far, far higher than the amount of funds saved by not giving assistance to people who failed the test.
        • Unbelievable
          Concerns were raised about possible 1 million cost to start the program??? Have they not thought about all the money they would be getting back/save by doing these tests. Majority of the people on welfare are living off of the system and are on drugs. If they tested those people and were denied when they failed the drug tests....funds and help might actually go to the people that need it and are clean
          • Cost
            Gee, I'm guessing the money saved on welfare payouts due to positive test results would cover the start-up costs and then some! I agree, if I am subject to drug screening to earn my money, then they should be subject to same screening to take it away from me!
          • My Money
            I think anyone claiming any of my hard earned tax money should be subject to a drug test. That is such a given in todays society, yet lamakers can not find a way to make it priority. We need some serious house cleaning this next election !!

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