Bill Requires Drug Test to Get Cash Assistance

By: Fay Li Email
By: Fay Li Email

It's a controversial legislation that has supporters and opponents battling it out from the beginning. H.B. 4118 requires suspicion-based drug screening for applicants and recipients of cash assistance from the Family Independence Program.

"To treat people that are on welfare differently we think is just another attack on people because of their economic status," said Shelli Weisberg, Legislative Director at ACLU of Michigan.

However, the bill's sponsor, Rep. Jeff Farrington (R-Utica) disagrees, saying a drug test is often a required part of pre-employment screening.

"If someone has to take a drug test to get a job, the same standard should be used to get welfare assistance."

Both sides can agree on at least one thing, that making the screening suspicion based makes the bill constitutional. As it stands now, the Department of Human Services would be required to identify suspicious applicants or recipients through a survey or empirically validated test.

"Using data proven methodology, it's something they use in psychology, in a lot of the research medical areas," Rep. Farrington explained.

The cost to taxpayers to develop this screening program is unknown at this time, but ACLU already said it's money that won't be well spent.

"We think there are better ways to deal with this and we think the State of Michigan should be spending its money to deal with help for those people who are drug addicted," said Weisberg.

Rep. Farrington argues the program helps save taxpayer money and provides support for those who may have a drug addiction.

"Right now that money is probably not going toward helping the family anyway. If this is someone with an illegal drug habit, it's really not going where it's suppose to be going so we want to put them on the right track for them and their family as well as making them job ready going forward once they come off of welfare," said Rep. Farrington.

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  • by WTH Location: Location on Mar 27, 2013 at 06:11 AM
    I see nothing wrong with this at all! If those of us that are working or trying to find work have to have drug tests to get a job, why shouldn't ALL welfare applicants have to be tested? Some jobs even require a random drug test. It has nothing to do with attacking someone because of their economic status. It is about doing what is right and giving the help to those who need it and will use it for the intended use! Hell, you can't even be hired at a hospital now if you smoke cigarettes! Lets look at all of those people who are on welfare that keep havign kids with different people and don't work. It is ridiculous! I am tired of paying for them! I can barely take care of my own family, but I WORK to do it!!
  • by Steve Location: Lansing on Mar 26, 2013 at 05:44 PM
    Doesn't work. Just makes mean people happy.
  • by Tony Location: Jackson on Mar 25, 2013 at 10:07 PM
    Weed out the bad apples.
  • by Lorrie Location: Lansing on Mar 21, 2013 at 12:32 PM
    Never thought I'd ever agree much on anything republican, but this makes total sense to me. I'm tired of working to raise other people & their kids when most of these people are more able-bodied than am I.
  • by Pete Location: Lansing on Mar 20, 2013 at 03:31 PM
    Good idea! Another bill to be introduced is drug testing for the legislators which includes alcohol. Coming back from lunch that includes coctails should be reason for termination. Voting on matters that pertain to me should be done sober.
  • by Taxpayer Location: Michigan on Mar 20, 2013 at 02:46 PM
    Hey name, I noticed that you said wastes MORE of our tax dollars in your rant. Must be you agree that the program as it is , is a waste of money. Spend a day in a Lansing classroom and you will see the products of several generations of families on the dole.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 20, 2013 at 11:34 AM
    Wow about time but I don't think it will happen! Then if we can stop giving food stamps to the dead just think how much money Michigan would have! Maybe if we had any regular citizen in office these issues may be found sooner than this. It does not take a college degree to figure both of these situations out!
  • by Elaine Location: Location on Mar 20, 2013 at 10:27 AM
    To Name; you didn't mention that Jeb Bush had an interest in the labs in Florida that was doing the drug testing. Makes you wonder doesn't it? I agree with Name the cost of the testing is more that what is actually saved and as Name stated that has already been proven.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 20, 2013 at 05:37 AM
    If I do drugs, I get fired. Explain to me how welfare folks should be treated differently.
  • by Name Location: Location on Mar 20, 2013 at 05:29 AM
    Regardless of whatever classist, racist stuff people are going to spew about this, this exact same thing has been tried before in two states, and it didn't work either time. Florida did it most recently and it cost something like $20 million and only saved something like $1-2 million. $18 million down the drain for some hare-brained scheme that doesn't actually save any money, but instead wastes more of our dollars. This is what is going to happen in Michigan.
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