UPDATE: McMillin’s Drug Testing Bill Advances
Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville)
Update posted Wednesday, February 1 at 9:00 a.m.:
The Indiana House passed the drug testing for welfare bill Tuesday afternoon.
Representatives showed overwhelming support for the House Bill 1007 as it passed on a 73-23 vote. The proposal now goes to the state Senate for consideration.
The bill was authored by State Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville) who issued a statement following its passage:
“I introduced this bill again this year because I feel it is imperative that your tax dollars go to those who are truly trying to better themselves. We must provide incentives for people to bring themselves out of poverty and to do the right thing,” said Rep. McMillin.
House Bill 1007 requires the Office of the Secretary of Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) to develop a pilot program in three counties to test for the use of controlled substances by an individual who receives public assistance. The bill also requires the legislative council to establish and administer a program to test members of the General Assembly for the use of controlled substances due to an amendment offered by Rep. McMillin. The two drug testing programs created by the bill will mirror each other in requirements.
“Similar efforts have been made in other states such as Florida, Michigan and Missouri, none of those have been successful though. Their nonsuccess is why I put forth my own amendment outlining the drug testing of legislators,” said Rep. McMillin. “It was essential that all provisions of the bill be able to withstand constitutional muster.”
The bill requires that both legislators and public assistance recipients consent to a drug test or lose certain privileges. They can both also be required to take a drug test, based on reasonable suspicion, as outlined in the law. In addition, the bill stipulates that FSSA notify the Department of Child Services if a child is ineligible for assistance as a result of an individual testing positive for the illegal use of a controlled substance.
“I am excited to help our state become a national leader on this important issue,” said Rep. McMillin.
Original story posted Tuesday, January 31 at 10:35 a.m.:
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – A local lawmaker’s bill to test welfare recipients for drugs before they can receive benefits will now include drug testing for state lawmakers.
House Bill 1007 would establish a pilot program in three counties to require any Hoosier receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, for themselves or a dependant to pass a drug test. The Office of the Secretary of Family and Social Services will administer the program and decide which three counties participate.
State Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville) had the bill he authored up for debate in the House again Monday. He had withdrawn the legislation last week after an amendment was added to include drug testing for members of the General Assembly, saying the amendment had constitutional issues.
On Tuesday, McMillin amended the bill himself to include a different amendment which allows testing for state lawmakers.
“There’s going to be pushback. There’s no better way for me to address those concerns head on than by saying ‘I’m doing the same thing. I’m willing to subject myself to it,’” McMillin said.
Florida and Missouri lawmakers passed similar laws in 2011 which are under legal challenges arguing the laws are a violation of the 4th Amendment of the United State Constitution protecting against illegal searches and seizures.
“It’s clearly settled that a drug test is a search. The Supreme Court has decided that,” McMillin said. “But what we’ve done is provide people the opportunity to consent to it, and if they consent to it you can consent to anything just like allowing somebody come in to search your house or your car. If you don’t want to consent to it you’re still going to be subject to drug testing if we can determine reasonable suspicion, which is exactly what the 4th Amendment requires.”
McMillin added that his bill is a different approach that passes constitutional muster, but still has teeth to get the job done.
Under the proposal, people who consent to and fail the test would still be allowed to receive their TANF benefits. After a second test failure, they could lose the benefits for six months.
Individuals who don’t consent to a test could be tested later if reasonable suspicion arises. Their TANF benefits would be terminated immediately for six months if they fail.
What the testing will cost has been a concern, as well. The state would pay the cost of tests for individuals who pass, but those who fail would be forced to pay out of their own pocket.
The non-partisan Legislative Services Agency has tagged the cost of the three-county pilot program at $1 million to $1.5 million a year.
“In the long run this thing is going to save us money, I believe,” said McMillin.
The bill passed a second reading in the House on Monday. It could receive a final vote on Tuesday.
You can hear Eagle 99.3’s interview with McMillin on our Soundbytes page.