Michigan now requires welfare recipients to be drug-tested

All too often when you hear people talk about welfare, theres a hidden attack on the poor. Those who receive welfare are judged and unfairly categorized. In what seems to be a continuance of these attacks, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation that will require drug testing of adult welfare recipients, if they are suspected of being substance abusers.

As a one-year pilot, the Republican-led initiative that Snyder approved was House Bill 4118 and Senate Bill 275. In a press release, Snyder said “We want to remove the barriers that are keeping people from getting good jobs, supporting their families and living independently. This pilot program is intended to help ensure recipients get the wrap-around services they need to overcome drug addiction and lead successful lives. We’ll then have opportunity to assess effectiveness and outcomes.”

The Michigan League for Public Policy and the Civil Liberties Union opposed the bill.

In critiquing what Gov. Snyder has done, Sen. Vincent Gregory, (D-Southfield) pointed out that schools receive tax credits, police and fire departments receive tax credits, and even some students receive tax credits, but those who on welfare are subjected to drug-screening.

According to the Atlanta Black Star, “Under the program, welfare recipients or applicants suspected of drug use will be required to take a substance abuse test. There was no mention of how someone would be determined to fit into “suspected of drug use” category or who would make the determination.”

If an individual refuses to take a drug test, they will be ineligible to receive benefits for six months. If a person tests positive for drugs, they will be referred to treatment programs. Failure to participate in the program or continued substance abuse will lead to termination of benefits.

Michigan League for Public Policy said similar programs in other states did not save money, Atlanta Black Star wrote. The nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency estimated a statewide program would cost roughly $700,000 to $3.4 million, while potentially saving $370,000 to $3.7 million in caseload reductions.”

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