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.


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