Michigan Welfare Recipients and Drug Tests

Should the government be allowed to test welfare recipients?

All across the U.S., there is a spreading ripple by state lawmakers to confirm that those who receive assistance do not spend tax dollars on illegal drugs.  To date, laws have been passed in seven states that require public assistance recipients or applicants to undergo screening or drug testing.  The state of Michigan is seeking to join this growing trend.

Welfare Recipients and Drug Tests

The Detroit Free Press reported on a bill that Michigan lawmakers are considering and have been considering for a while.

Republican-sponsored legislation being considered Wednesday by a House committee would establish a program of suspicion-based substance abuse screening and testing for Family Independence Program applicants and recipients who are at least 18 years old.”

In 2012, there was a similar bill that won in the House. However, when the bill got to the Senate it died because the American Civil Liberties Union sued.  The American Civil Liberties Union claimed that the bill violated constitutional rights by testing without “individualized suspicion”.

National Movement of Drug Testing

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, in the last two years, seven states have put laws into place that require applicants or recipients of public assistance to go through drug testing or screening, as reported by the USA Today. The seven states include Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah.

Indiana legislators have also joined the drug testing and screening movement.  In late February 2013, Indiana’s House of Representatives passed a bill that mandates drug test for recipients of welfare benefits.  Indiana State Rep. Jud McMillin is quoted by USA Today as stating:

“We are trying to recognize that people need help,” McMillin said. But “you can only help those who help themselves, and there has to be a modicum of individual responsibility and accountability.”

What do you think?

Do you agree with the American Civil Liberties Union? Here is a question; does your employer require you to be drug tested? If so, is that any different than someone receiving cash from the government being required to be drug tested?