Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder recently signed Republican-led legislation that effectively wages war on the poor, opponents claim.
MSNBC reports that the bills approved by Snyder will lead to a one-year pilot program that requires adult welfare recipients in three unspecified Michigan counties to submit to drug testing if they are suspected to be substance abusers. There has been no clarification as to who or what will determine whether a person is suspected of drug use.
“We want to remove the barriers that are keeping people from getting good jobs, supporting their families and living independently,” Snyder said in a press release. “This pilot program is intended to help ensure recipients get the wrap-around services they need to overcome drug addiction and lead successful lives. We’ll then have opportunity to assess effectiveness and outcomes.”
If recipients or applicants who are asked to the take the test refuse, they will be deemed ineligible for benefits for six months. However, the governor’s office also said that benefits would be restored once they submit to and pass a drug test.
Those recipients and applicants who submit to a drug test and test positive will be forced to enter a referred treatment program or lose their welfare benefits.
The Civil Liberties Union, the Michigan League for Public Policy and a number of local state legislators have publicly opposed the bills’ passage.
“This is the war on the poor. Are we going to drug test other people who receive tax dollars? I don’t think so,” Coleman Young II (D) said earlier this month after the bills passed the Senate, Think Progress reports. “We’re going after a law that has been found unconstitutional in Florida and other states.”
According to Katie Valentine of Think Progress, research has shown that drug testing welfare recipients can ultimately cost states more money than they hoped save, as proven when Utah spent $30,000 to screen recipients when only 12 people tested positive.
At least 12 states have approved legislation on drug testing welfare applicants or recipients, although Florida’s law has been stopped.
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