Bill requiring drug testing for welfare recipients heads to governor

Courtesy:  State Senator Joe Hune’s Office

LANSING — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday passed a bill to help ensure public assistance is going to the most needy recipients, not criminals or drug abusers.

In 1996, the federal government enacted the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which established the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Since then, TANF has continuously been abused by those looking to take advantage of the care and support of others, most specifically drug abusers.

Senate Bill 275, sponsored by Sen. Joe Hune, will amend the Social Welfare Act to require the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) to establish and administer a pilot program of suspicion-based substance abuse screening and testing for Family Independence Program (FIP) applicants and recipients.

“This common-sense reform will ensure that only the neediest and law-abiding citizens receive aid in the form of our hard-earned tax dollars,” said Hune, R-Hamburg. “I am very pleased my colleagues have passed this measure and I look forward to the governor’s approval.”

The measure requires the DHS to refer an applicant or recipient to department-designated community mental health entities if it were the first time the individual tested positive for illegal use of a controlled substance.

The DHS would have to terminate FIP assistance for individuals who either failed to participate in treatment offered by Community mental health entities, failed to test negative a second or subsequent time, or failed to submit to required periodic substance abuse testing.

SB 275, tie-barred to House Bill 4118, will be presented to Gov. Snyder for his approval shortly.