Alaska GOP Wants Drug Testing For Welfare Recipients

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The Alaskan Republican Party began their weekend convention on April 29. During the event, the party voiced their support for mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients.

GOP officials successfully added the plank to their party platform, Alaska Public Media reports. The drug screening would apply to all welfare applicants; recipients would be subject to random testing.

But not everyone was on board; Alaska State Senate candidate Jeff Lanfield voiced concerns about his party's policy proposal.

"Nobody wants somebody who’s a drug addict getting welfare," Lanfield said, according to Alaska Public Media. "But the reality is I don’t think it’s very many people who are doing it. But the real problem is [that it] costs so much money."

According to The National Conference of State Legislatures, 15 states passed drug-testing laws for those seeking public assistance. A 2011 federal report noted that these laws catch very few drug users.

The position is not hew within the Republican Party. Republican Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, made headlines with his hard-nosed approach to drug testing in 2015, ThinkProgress reports.

In July 2015, Walker approved legislation that would require a benefit recipient or applicant to undergo drug testing. However, constitutional law forbids states from using drug tests to decide if someone deserves unemployment or food benefits. Walker aimed to bypass this restriction by saying these state programs are welfare, and he is currently suing the federal government to gain permission to enact the law.

And on May 4, Walker authorized new measures that allow employers to voluntarily share the results of their prospective-employee drug tests with the state. If the prospective employee failed the test or refused to undergo one as a condition of their employment, they could be barred from receiving unemployment benefits unless they agree to receive tax-funded drug treatment.

"This new rule brings us one step closer to moving Wisconsinites from government dependence to true independence," Walker said, according to ThinkProgress. "We frequently hear from employers that they have good paying jobs, but they need their workers to be drug-free. This rule is a common-sense reform which strengthens our workforce by helping people find and keep a family supporting job."

Sources: Alaska Public Media, ThinkProgress / Photo Credit: Micah Baldwin/Flickr

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