2:33 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Indiana Panel Approves Bill to Require Drug Testing for Some on Welfare

A bill that would require some Indiana welfare recipients to be drug tested has cleared a second state House committee.

Under Republican Rep. Jud McMillin’s proposal, all applicants for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program would have to fill out a written form to screen for possible substance abuse.

Those identified as possible drug abusers would have to undergo a drug test.  If they fail, they would have to go into a treatment program to continue receiving benefits.

The measure has already won approval by the House Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee.

McMillin was peppered with questions today by members of the House Ways and Means Committee.   One  asked how his bill would impact the children of welfare recipients who lose benefits because of drug use.  

"If funds are withheld from children, I would not dispute that children could be affected by that.  But I would also want to make clear, as we discussed this, children are also affected by living in a household in which drugs are abused, and it’s important that we make sure that we provide the best environment for children," he said. 

Other concerns were raised about the availability of funds for drug treatment programs, and whether the program would unfairly target only one segment of the population that receives government funds.

A similar bill last year cleared the full House but stalled in a Senate committee.