Indiana Becomes Latest State To Drug Test Welfare Recipients
Indiana now joins Minnesota and Kansas as the latest state to approve mandatory drug testing for state welfare recipients. State representatives voted 71-22 in favor of the bill last Tuesday, which will allow welfare recipients to be screened for drug abuse. They will also have their food stamp purchases limited to “nutritional items,” thereby likely banning candy and soda to be purchased with the government funds. Indiana residents who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funding to take a questionnaire screening for substance abuse.
Not every state is on board with the practice, though. North Dakota and Virginia have rejected similar measures, while a Florida judge ruled that the state’s testing policy as unconstitutional. Judge Mary S. Scriven shot down the state’s policy last month and said that “the court finds there is no set of circumstances under which the warrantless, suspicionless drug testing at issue in this case could be constitutionally applied.”
Gov. Rick Scott, who put the law into place by arguing that the drug testing was necessary to protect taxpayers and families, said he would appeal the ruling. “Any illegal drug use in a family is harmful and even abusive to a child,” he said in a statement. “We should have a zero-tolerance policy for illegal drug use in families – especially those families who struggle to make ends meet and need welfare assistance to provide for their children.”
But even before the ruling, the welfare testing program had yielded minimal results. In April 2012, findings showed that only 108 out of 4,086 welfare applicants (2.6%) who were drug tested showed positive results. In addition, reimbursing the costs of the tests to welfare applicants who tested negative outweighed what the government would have disbursed to people who failed, ultimately costing the state $45,780.