Progress On “Drug Testing For Welfare” Proposal
By Mike Perleberg
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Indiana lawmakers are working on final details of a bill that would require some Hoosier welfare recipients to be randomly selected for drug testing.
The House and Senate have passed different versions of House Bill 1351 authored by State Representative Jud McMillin (R-Brookville). Currently, the House version would subject all Indiana adults receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to possible random testing.
The Senate version would only put into the testing pool individuals who have been convicted of a drug crime in the past. The Senate bill was also amended to remove a requirement that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program food stamps only be used to purchase foods that meet nutritional standards set by the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration.
Negotiations among lawmakers from each chamber were held Thursday. If the same bill can pass both the House and Senate, it goes to the governor’s desk for possible signature into law.
This is the closest McMillin’s bill has come to passing the General Assembly, dying in the Senate each of the past two years. Time is running out, however, as the 2014 legislative session is scheduled to end on March 14.
The Associated Press reports that in an effort to stall the bill, State Rep. John Bartlett (D-Indianapolis) revived a Democratic strategy and requested lawmakers also be drug tested. Such a provision led to the bill’s demise during the 2013 lawmaking session.
Republican Senators Brent Steele (R-Bedford) and Mike Young (R-Indianapolis) said drug tests for legislators are unnecessary. They each said Thursday that they have passed voluntary drug tests.