Justice

Here's Who Ohio Lawmakers Want To Start Drug Testing

August 5th 2015

By:
Alex Mierjeski

Lawmakers in Ohio are seeking to require drug test screening for welfare applicants; legislation is expected to be introduced Wednesday, according to news reports. The bill makes Ohio the latest state to flirt with the idea of placing such conditions on welfare assistance for poor residents—a practice that has met opposition in other states.

The proposal, set to be introduced by Reps. Ron Maag (R-Salem Township) and Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster), would also set aside money for treatment plans for those deemed likely to have drug dependency problems based on the outcomes of a preliminary and subsequent drug test.

The measure is meant to safeguard against taxpayer money fueling drug habits and lining the pockets of drug dealers, Maag told Cincinnati.com, adding that the tests would protect both taxpayers and drug addicts.

"We're not trying to hurt them in any way," Maag said. "We're trying to get the person addicted to drugs some help."

Under the legislation, each cash-assistance applicant would be given a substance abuse screening test, and only if he or she showed a penchant for abuse would an actual drug test be administered. If the latter test turns up positive, the applicant would be pointed towards treatment and barred from public assistance for at least six months. Children or spouses of the applicant could be approved for assistance via a job or a family services employee, or by a guardian or community organization member. According to Cincinnati.com, the program would cost about $6,250 for every 5,000 screening tests, and then $30 for each actual drug test, the latter of which the applicant would pay for.

Critics of the impending legislation, including civil rights groups like the Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, say the underlying assumptions built into a drug testing mandate for welfare applicants targets a small portion of residents, and buttresses the notion that poor people are more likely to use state assistance funds to buy drugs rather than more basic necessities—something Mike Brickner, Ohio's ACLU senior policy director, called "an ugly and false stereotype."

Similar legislation has been passed in more than a dozen states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah. As many as 16 other states have proposed legislation that would mandate some form of drug testing for public assistance programs.

Drug testing laws in other states have produced questionable results. In Arizona, where the program wads first introduced in 2009, predicted savings fell short of legislators' hopes, the Tucson Sentinel reported in March. Lawmakers there estimated that the state would save around $1.7 million each year with lower numbers of people on welfare, but since the program was implemented, only 26 people have lost their welfare benefits for either failing the drug test or failing to take the test. According to the Sentinel, the latest data from the state's Department of Economic Security shows that the savings from 16 of those 26 people amounts to less than $4,000—$3,500 when the cost of the drug tests are accounted for. Even if the other ten people had been factored into the savings, it's unlikely that the number would have gotten near $1.7 million.

Other states have recorded low numbers of positive drug tests, too. In Tennessee, for example, out of more than 16,000 public benefit applicants, just 37 were tested positive as of March, and the state spent $5,295 administering the tests, according to the Tennessean. A report by ThinkProgress found that across a number of states, including Arizona, Kansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah, statistics showed welfare applicants were less likely to use drugs than the general population.

Is drug testing people on welfare effective?

This video pretty much sums it up...Source: http://bit.ly/1Avy2Bi

Posted by ATTN: on Monday, February 16, 2015

 

Ohio's Rep. Schaffer previously tried to pass drug testing legislation, but the proposal failed. According to Cincinnati.com, should the proposal pass, the ACLU would consider filing a lawsuit to repeal it.