New Michigan Law Could Slash Welfare Rolls

LawLast week, the Republican governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, signed two bills into law that authorize a one-year pilot program to implement mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients authorities suspect of illegal drug use. In a statement released by the governor’s office, he said:

We want to remove the barriers that are keeping people from getting good jobs, supporting their families and living independently. This pilot program is intended to help ensure recipients get the wrap-around services they need to overcome drug addiction and lead successful lives. We’ll then have opportunity to assess effectiveness and outcomes.

The law enables state authorities to administer drug tests to welfare recipients they believe may be using illegal drugs. If the recipient tests positive for drugs, he or she can lose existing benefits or have an application for new benefits rejected.

Democrats in Michigan strongly opposed passage of the legislation, arguing similar laws in other states have not been proven to save money. Republicans control both houses of the Michigan state government, however, so the bills passed easily.

An earlier Michigan law mandating drug testing was struck down by the courts, as was a similar law in Florida. However, both Missouri and Oklahoma have enacted laws to drug test welfare recipients.

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