Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

May 4, 2013

Another View: Welfare drug testing latest insult by state GOP

Expensive, inefficient and insulting?

That seems to be the question the Michigan Republican Party asks before proposing legislation these days - and if the answer is yes, they’re all in.

That’s the only rationale for such winners as the obnoxious abortion regulations passed last year, or the current legislation that would expand the list of “moral conscience” objections available to doctors.

The latest? A bill that would require recipients of public assistance to submit to drug testing.

The idea that drug use is rampant among people receiving public assistance — and that states could save loads of cash by booting drug-abusing welfare recipients off the dole — is a notion much-beloved by the GOP, despite a blinding lack of evidence to support such claims, or any reason to believe such a law would stand.

Michigan legislators approved a similar law in 1999 that required mandatory random drug testing for welfare recipients.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued, and a U.S. District Court judge issued an injunction on the grounds that the law violates the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure.

The state’s Family Independence Agency and the ACLU settled the case in 2003; the FIA agreed to test only when there’s a “reasonable suspicion” of drug use. ...

It’s unclear why lawmakers think a second go-round in Michigan would be more successful — or more effective.

During the five-week duration of the 1999 program, just 21 of 268 people tested positive, according to the ACLU. (A) Florida program’s four-month run found just 108 individuals, 2.6 percent of applicants or re-applicants for public assistance, positive for drug use. ...

A 2012 Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency report described drug-use rates among recipients of benefits roughly comparable, or even lower, than drug use in the general population. And the cost to implement a drug-testing program could vary, the report found, leading to a range of financial outcomes: If costs were high, but positive results low, the state could spend millions and save only tens of thousands.

Text Only

Opinion Poll
AP Video
Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest