First, the welfare drug test. Now Maine Gov. Paul LePage wants to remove all welfare benefits from drug felons, and his opponents have had just about enough.
In February, LePage’s administration moved to make drug testing mandatory for all applicants to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
That move alone was enough to rile up many of LePage’s adversaries, who deemed the plan “barbaric.”
Essentially what LePage wants to do is move Maine’s state law in line with federal law that prohibits the provision of benefits for people convicted on drug-related felony charges.
States do have the power to override this law, and many have, but LePage wants to make sure that Maine isn’t among them.
The current law allows welfare drug tests to be administered to anyone, who has been convicted of a drug-related felony within the last 10 years, the Portland Press Herald notes.
The paper details what happens if a recipient fails this testing, noting that benefits would be removed if they failed to complete a substance use disorder treatment plan. They would also have to take what is called a “Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory.” Failing that would cause them to submit to urinalysis.
“We have long believed that this is an appropriate path to take to ensure that the benefits are being used to support families on their pathway out of poverty and to ensure appropriate use of taxpayer dollars,” said Mary Mayhew, the Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner.
Democratic lawmakers have already said they have plans to fight LePage’s extension of that bill which would disallow benefits from those who are convicted of drug-related felonies, particularly state Rep. Drew Gattine.
“If we want to discourage drug use, there are far better ways to do it,” Gattine said. “This bill only further stereotypes and scapegoats the poor.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) agrees, noting in a statement that it’s a program like this one that perpetuates “that ugly stereotype that poor people are more likely than others to use drugs. That has not proven to be true.”
To that point, some have pointed out that while that may be true, non-poor drug users are subjected to drug testing and if they fail could likely lose their jobs.
Still, that hasn’t quieted naysayers on Facebook.
“Sure, folks who have drug problems are just worthless scum and should be allowed to starve, right?” wrote Donna Hix. “And, their children are probably just chips off the ol’ block, who will grow up to be lowlife moochers, suckling the life out of the taxpayer too; so just let them starve and go without anything they need, too — is that correct?… Weed them out while they’re still little?… Very Darwinian… ‘Republican
“Has anyone ever checked to see which legislators are getting paid by the drug-testing companies, or what the corps are trying to fund?” asked Natosha Monego. “Because this is all about money. It’s not about concern for people.”
“The governor should attempt to make an effort to create a few jobs in the state, rather than, deflect to another beating of the poor,” wrote a third commenter.
What do you think, readers? Should welfare drug tests be mandatory, and is LePage’s desire to ban benefits to drug felons barbaric? Sound off in the comments section.
[Image via Politico]