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Legislation will require some drug testing in order to receive welfare


LANSING, MI (WTVB) - Legislation that would allow suspicion-based drug testing of Michigan welfare recipients was approved Wednesday by the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee, which is chaired by State Representative Ken Kurtz of Coldwater. Similar legislation was approved by the House last session but stalled in the Senate. 

Under the new legislation, first time offenders would be referred to a regional substance abuse coordinating agency for treatment.  If they follow the treatment program then they would continue to receive benefits.  Only the individuals who test positive would have to pay for the cost of the test. Kurtz, a co-sponsor of the bill, believes this difference will help prepare individuals to be better suited for future employment.

Kurtz said one of the goals of welfare is to help their recipients become ready for future employment opportunities and helping individuals overcome addiction will put them in a better position to move off of government assistance and be better prepared for future employment. This legislation still allows people who fail a drug test to receive housing assistance, food stamps and Medicaid, but those individuals would no longer receive cash benefits to support their addictions.

The bill is now up for consideration in the full House.