Indiana House Passes Drug Testing For Welfare Recipients

The Indiana House has passed drug testing for some welfare recipients. The bill was passed on Monday and requires all applicants for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to fill out a written screening test for possible drug addiction.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 78-17. After the written screening test is filled out, those identified as possible drug abusers would have to undergo a drug test.

Should the test prove to be positive, the applicant would have to go through a drug treatment program before they can receive benefit payments from the program, reports WTHR-13.

Now that the bill has passed Indiana’s House, it will go to the Senate for debate and approval. While the bill passed easily, some Democrats did not approve of the program over worries that there are not enough affordable drug treatment programs in the state.

Some rural areas have no programs nearby. The Houston Chronicle notes that Rep. Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis) stated of the bill:

“There are no safeguards to help people. We don’t know that in the 92 counties of Indiana whether or not there’s a treatment plan or treatment program for them.”

The bill’s sponsor is Republican Rep. Jud McMillin from Brookville. He stated that the bill is aimed at helping drug addicts, as well as the home environment for children exposed to people who abuse drugs. Federal laws don’t allow drug testing for recipients of Medicaid or food stamps.

But there is no regulation for drug testing on Indiana’s TANF program. McMillin explained, “They’re the people who need the most help. This is designed to get them help.”

The Legislative Services Agency, a nonpartisan organization, estimated that the testing program would cost about $1.2 million to start, though McMillin believes the expenses would taper off in later years. In an effort to stop the bill Democrats tried to have legislators face drug tests as well.

McMillin claimed that the effort by Democrats was a distraction, though it could be offered as a separate bill. But Rep. David Niezgodski (D-South Bend) asserted that it was hypocritical to have TANF applicants undergo drug testing without the legislature submitting to drug tests as well.

Niezgodski also questioned spending $1.2 million on a new program when millions of dollars have already been cut from state programs.

Do you think Indiana should be allowed to drug test TANF applicants before giving them assistance?