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Welfare Drug Testing Bill Passes Michigan Senate

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #814)
Drug War Issues

In one of its final acts of the 2013 session, the Michigan Senate last Thursday passed a bill that would allow drug testing of some welfare recipients for "reasonable suspicion." The bill passed the GOP-dominated chamber on a straight party line vote.

The measure is Senate Bill 275, sponsored by Sen. Joe Hune (R-Hamburg Township). A similar measure passed the House in May. Neither bill has been approved by the other chamber, but both will still be alive and could pass next year.

The bill directs the state Department of Human Services to set up a three-county pilot project of drug screening and testing for the Family Independence Program, the state's program that provides cash assistance to poor families with children and pregnant women.

If the initial screening creates "reasonable suspicion" of drug use, recipients would be required to submit to a drug test. Those who tested positive would be referred for treatment, with a second positive test leading to loss of benefits.

"We have children going to school hungry every day without proper clothing because their parents are addicted to drugs and alcohol," claimed state Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) in remarks reported by Michigan Live. "They receive welfare money but they don't spend it on their children. They spend it on their addiction."

The measure passed the Senate in a straight party-line vote. All Democrats opposed the measure despite winning an amendment that would allow children whose parents test positive for illegal drugs to continue receiving benefits through a third party, such as a guardian.

Drug testing has been a big issue for Michigan Republicans this year. Earlier this year, the legislature passed and Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed into law a bill allowing the state to cut unemployment benefits to anyone who failed a pre-employment drug test.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


kickback (not verified)

The lawyers are doing this to create some work for themselves . They know that this crap will end up in the courts . The politicians go along with it for the votes amongst the uninformed and bigoted . The taxpayers foot the bill .

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 4:12am Permalink

This bill and all the other bills like this in other states have been proven to be a big waste of taxpayer money. Don't you [Republicans] ever learn that less than 1% of those tested will fail the test and that is just not enough to warrant such a waste of our tax money.

Wise up and read once in a while [about how these type of programs have a dismal "catch rate"] instead of just blindly passing stupid measures like this one.

As usual it's the Republicans [and some Democrats too] picking on and harassing the poorest of our citizens when their only motivation for doing it at all is to make a fake show that they are doing something when in fact they really aren't and it fools a certain percentage of uninformed voters so they'll keep voting for the incumbents.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 5:12pm Permalink
Detroiter (not verified)

Michigan needs this! As someone that has seen first hand how these people receive benefits from taxpayers, and don't use it as intended. The money saved just by people that refuse to drug test and have their benefits cut, would be enough to help our dying economy! I am a full supporter, and I'm a democrat!
Sat, 01/11/2014 - 12:31am Permalink

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