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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Michigan Senate Passes Bill Requiring Drug Tests For Welfare Recipients

Michigan’s State Senate has approved a bill that would require drug testing for welfare recipients. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Joe Hune (R-Hamburg Township), would mandate that the Department of Human Services conduct drug screens for those seeking eligibility for the Family Independence Program, which, according to Benefits.gov, “provides temporary cash assistance to families with children and pregnant women to help them pay for living expenses such as rent, heat, utilities, clothing, food and personal care items.”
Michigan would not be the first state to enact such provisions for applicants seeking welfare. Utah launched a similar program last year, which, according to The Salt Lake Tribune, saved the state $369,000 in unpaid benefits after spending $30,000 on surveys and drug tests over the course of a year. 
Supporters of the Michigan bill claim that the welfare money is being used improperly to support drug and alcohol addiction rather than the way the state intends it to be spent.
“We have children going to school hungry every day without proper clothing because their parents are addicted to drugs and alcohol. They receive welfare money but they don’t spend it on their children. They spend it on their addiction,” Sen. Rick Jones (R-Ledge) said regarding the bill. 
Because simply cutting off welfare funds for families suffering from addictions would not solve the problem of “children going to school hungry every day,” Democratic senators introduced an amendment to the bill that would allow children of parents suffering from addiction to continue receiving benefits through a third party. Although the measure was included in the bill, all Senate Democrats voted against it, according to M Live. 
Michigan’s House is also working on a similar measure regarding drug testing for welfare recipients, but neither measure has been approved by both branches of the state’s legislation yet. 

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