Indiana News

House Again Seeks Drug Tests for Welfare Recipients

Those who flunk would have to enter treatment to keep state benefits



For the second straight year, the Indiana House has voted to require welfare recipients to face drug testing.

This year's bill would not automatically cut off benefits to those who flunk. Instead, they'd have to enter a treatment program in order to stay on the rolls.

Flunking two tests in a four-month period would trigger a three-month suspension of benefits.

All welfare recipients would answer a questionnaire assessing whether they're predisposed toward substance abuse. Those marked as at-risk, or those who have faced drug charges in the past, would be subject to random drug tests.

Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville), the bill's author, says it's a way to identify and help Hoosiers with substance-abuse issues. But Rep. Charlie Brown (D-Gary) complains the bill unfairly singles out the poor for testing.

Last year's version of the bill was amended to require legislators to be tested too. The House rejected an attempt last week to tack on that provision again, as well as a proposal from Brown to require drug tests for those receiving economic development grants or tax credits.

Rep. Dan Forestal (D-Indianapolis) voted for the bill, but warns a similar Florida law has been ruled unconstitutional. 3% of Florida welfare recipients tested positive for drugs before the program was halted.

The bill passed 78-17 and now heads to the Senate.


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