It’s very difficult to reach out for help. Most people continue on their downward spiral due to the fear associated with this humiliating process. Some consider more drastic options before they can humble themselves to walk into the welfare office for assistance.
Unfortunately, in our community it’s all to common. Long lines in the unemployment office, clinics and welfare assistance.
As bad as a person feels for their lives getting to this point, Hoosier lawmakers will make them feel even worse about their life situation thanks to HB 1483.
Republican lawmakers decided that in order to get your $200 a month in TANF for your family, you’ll have to submit to a “personality test” to see if you have the propensity to use drugs. If your test results say that you might use drugs, then you will be placed in an arbitrary pool for future random drug testing. Why?
Because the republican constituency doesn’t want their tax money going to poor people who use drugs while receiving welfare. When I read this, I thought how humiliating. Yet, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 29 states have introduced legislative proposals requiring drug testing or screening for public assistance applicants or recipients in 2013. All republican majority states.
So instead of creating jobs, they are enacting bills to hurt already struggling families.
While the most conservative pundit will claim, “We don’t want our tax money going to drug addicts!”. We can’t help but point out that Florida tried this and spent an estimated $2.9 million to save roughly $300 thousand.
Florida then shifted the burden onto the welfare recipient. Great! I’m already destitute and not wanting to ask for help, and now your making me spend $59 because you think I’m using drugs. What a supportive state!
We can expect additional costs for this law such as massive legal fees defending the constitutionality of this bill. We don’t mind paying legal bills for lawyers, as long as we don’t give it to families in need who might be buying drugs.
So, it’s not about saving taxpayer money at all. It’s about a principle they feel they need to push on struggling Hoosiers.
Well fine, since it’s about the principle of using drugs while receiving taxpayer dollars, why not also implement a House Bill requiring our lawmakers be subjected to random drug and alcohol tests. It’s about the principle, right?
Our conservative pundit will say, “How ridiculous and insulting!”
Really, if it’s about principle, let’s not be a hypocrite. It’s good accountability and good government. Quite frankly, if our lawmakers are using drugs and alcohol while negotiating with contractors or businesses, I don’t think they should be making policy decisions under the influence.
Our friends in Minnesota are pushing an exact replica of this bill right now. Representative Tina Liebling said she introduced the House amendment to underscore that drug testing promotes stereotypes about people who receive welfare. “There is no evidence that people who apply for [welfare in Minnesota or Indiana] use drugs at any higher rate than anybody else,” she said. “Legislators should be tested. After all, we’re giving public money and the public has an interest in making sure we’re drug-free and alcohol-free.”
The measure states Minnesota lawmakers may be required to undergo random drug screening for drugs and alcohol, at their own expense. If they test positive, they would not be allowed to receive a paycheck until their test results came back negative.
If it’s good enough for Minnesota, then it should be good enough for Hoosier lawmakers, so we’ll be sure to forward a copy of this article to Senators Tim Lanane and Doug Eckerty as our support for such a bill in Indiana to show the country we don’t single out groups for discrimination. We have Hoosier values.