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Local lawmaker wants more welfare recipients to get drug tested

Local lawmaker wants more welfare recipients to get drug tested

(THE MED CITY BEAT) - Minnesota Rep. Duane Quam (R-Byron) has introduced a bill that would require welfare recipients to be tested whenever there is "reasonable suspicion" of illegal drug use.

That legislation would affect people using the Minnesota Family Investment Program and other general assistant programs from the state Department of Human Services. Individuals would be asked to take a test if two of the following three things occur:

  • A local welfare agency "accepts a report for investigation or family assessment"
  • The department witnesses a behavior indicating illegal drug use
  • The applicant or recipient possesses an arrest record

The individual under suspicion would be required to pay for the drug screening, and would only be reimbursed if he or she passes the test. 

Any applicant or recipient who tests positive for a controlled substance or refuses to participate in the screening would be ineligible for general assistance for three years.

The bill is much tougher than a law passed in 2012, which requires people with past felony drug convictions receiving aid to be randomly tested.

The American Civil Liberties Union is opposed to drug testing people who receive public assistance. It calls laws that do so "unconstitutional, scientifically unsound and fiscally irresponsible."

Rep. Quam was contacted for the story but did not respond.


(Cover photo: File / ken fager / Creative Commons)

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