McMillin’s Third Try At “Drug Testing For Welfare” Passes House
By Mike Perleberg
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – A local lawmaker’s bill aimed at entitlement reform has passed the Indiana House.
House Bill 1351 is State Representative Jud McMillin’s third attempt to pass legislation that would drug test Hoosiers receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, benefits. House lawmakers voted 71-22 to pass it on to the Senate Tuesday.
“We are trying to accomplish several goals with this entitlement reform package like removing drugs from households, ensuring that tax dollars are being spent appropriately and making sure that good nutrition is available to more children,” McMillin says in a release.
If it becomes law, the bill by McMillin (R-Brookville) would require a county office to administer a written substance exam to all TANF recipients. The Substance Abuse Subtle Screen Inventory test results would determine if an individual is placed into a pool from which 50 percent of people are randomly selected for a drug screen.
According to McMillin, if an individual tests positive for illegal drugs can continue to receive TANF, but only if they enroll in a substance abuse treatment program. If they fail a subsequent drug screen while in treatment, their benefits will be stopped for three months.
McMillin’s bill failed in the Indiana Senate last year as too many senators had worries about what would happen to children whose parents had their benefit’s stripped away. This year’s version addresses that. McMillin says in the case where benefits are removed from households with children, those benefits can be transferred to another legal guardian.
HB 1351 goes a few steps further than the past proposals, however. It would also require those receiving food stamps through TANF to spend them on nutritious foods and beverages. The state would determine what items meet that classification.
“A major component of living a healthy lifestyle is eating a balanced, nutritious diet,” said McMillin. “Nutritious food is extremely important to proper development and overall well-being of our children and every child deserves access to that.”
Some Democrat lawmakers have raised constitutional questions about the drug testing aspect of HB 1351, as similar programs in other states have been challenged in court. There is also concern over what the testing program may cost. The non-partisan Indiana Legislative Services Agency estimates that HB 1351 would raise state expenditures by $1.38 million.