Drug testing for welfare recipients to be considered by state Senate

A bill that would require welfare recipients to submit to random drug screenings was passed in the Indiana House of Representatives on Wednesday and will be reviewed by a Senate committee for concurrence in recent amendments.

Senate Bill 465, which addresses a number of human services and health matters, was amended Wednesday to include a program that drug screens at-risk individuals in order for them to continue to receive welfare money.

State Rep. Terry Goodin, D-Austin, whose district has been hit hard by the HIV outbreak, proposed the amendment.

The outbreak was brought about by prescription drug abuse, and Goodin said his intention with the amendment is to reduce the prevalence of drug abuse in his district.

Since his amendment prevailed Tuesday, Goodin, after learning about the limited number of individuals in his district on welfare, has already expressed concern for his amendment.

“There’s this urban myth that there are all these people taking welfare money and buying drugs with it,” Goodin said in an interview with the Indianapolis Star. “Maybe there’s not as much fraud as people say there is ... It even makes me rethink my position. Since now we found out the drug testing isn’t going to reach many people, maybe there’s a different way to reach these people who are hooked on drugs.”

The amendment would implement a program that identifies and screens individuals who are deemed at-risk or have prior drug-related offenses.

Should an individual test positive, they have the opportunity to seek counseling on their own expense and must pass a drug test again until they can continue to receive welfare.

The amendment passed in the House on Tuesday with a vote of 83-13 and, following the review by a committee of Senate advisers, will be sent to Gov. Mike Pence to sign into law.

Daniel Metz

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