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Senate Considers Welfare Drug Testing Bill

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February 26th – A proposal to drug test some state welfare recipients could soon be in the hands of the Indiana Senate. On Thursday the Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to hear House Bill 1351. The original legislation called for all recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to undergo a drug screening. The bill was later amended to test only recipients who have been convicted of a controlled substance offense. Senator Karen Tallian of Portage is the Ranking Minority Member of the Appropriations Committee. She says she is concerned that the cost of administering the program will outweigh the benefits.

“Drug testing for TANF benefits was tried in Florida and they came back with positive results of like 2%.” says Tallian, “It cost them so much more money to do the program than they came up with results to justify it.”

Tallian also says the bill raises legal concerns, and Federal Courts are already hearing cases on similar drug testing measures in other states. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana is opposed to the bill, calling it unconstitutional despite the amendments.

Tallian says the Senate has killed two similar bills in the past, and she plans to vote no when the Appropriations Committee considers the legislation again on Thursday.

By: Sarah Holst

 

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