Politics

Michigan Senate Advances Suspicion-Based Drug Testing Of Welfare Recipients

| by Will Hagle

Michigan has passed a string of laws targeting the state's welfare recipients throughout the past few months. In December, for instance, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill into law that prohibits welfare recipients from withdrawing cash from ATMs in liquor stores, horse tracks, and strip clubs. The latest and most high-profile piece of legislation targeting the specific segment of the population is the bill that would allow for suspicion-based drug testing of welfare recipients. 

The latest version of the bill, which has been under consideration and revision for several months, would require the Department of Human Services to set up a pilot version of the program in three counties. 

According to the Battle Creek Enquirer, the Senate advanced the bill on a 25-11 straight party line vote, with Republicans supporting the testing and Democrats voting against it.

The bill is significant because it allows the state government to administer a drug test to any individual whom it suspects of using illicit substances. If those individuals test positively or refuse to undergo the test, they risk losing their benefits. The law only affects adults, and children of drug-abusing parents continue to receive welfare benefits even if their families are cut off. 

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Michigan attempted to pass a similar bill allowing for random drug testing of welfare recipients in 1999, but that law was ruled unconstitutional after it was challenged by the ACLU.