- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 27, 2014

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed new legislation Friday to enact a drug-testing program for adult welfare recipients.

The one-year pilot program will be implemented in three counties that have not yet been determined, the Associated Press reported Friday.

Welfare recipients or applicants suspected of drug use will be required to take a drug test. Anyone who refuses to take the test will be suspended from welfare benefits for six months.

If a person tests positive for drugs they will be referred to a treatment program and required to submit periodic drug tests. Refusal to participate in the rehab program will result in a termination of welfare benefits. But benefits can be restored after a person submits a clean drug test.

Mr. Snyder said that the program is intended to help people get clean so they can get good jobs.

“We want to remove the barriers that are keeping people from getting good jobs, supporting their families and living independently,” Mr. Snyder said in a press statement, AP reported. “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.”

But opponents of the program say that similar efforts in other states have not been successful, and cost taxpayers more money.

The Senate Fiscal Agency estimated a statewide program would cost nearly $700,000 to $3.4 million, but would only save taxpayers between $370,000 and $3.7 million in caseload reductions, the Associated Press reported.

Other groups, like the American Civil Liberties Union argue that drug testing welfare recipients discriminates against poor people who don’t use drugs at a higher rate than the general population.

“We give out tax credits to schools, we give out tax credits to students, we give out tax credits to police and fire (departments),” Sen. Vincent Gregory, D-Southfield, said earlier this year on the Senate floor, AP reported. “And yet the only (group) that we are now saying is subject to drug screening are the poor — the poorest of the poor.”

• Kellan Howell can be reached at khowell@washingtontimes.com.

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