New bill would require drug tests for certain welfare recipients
AUGUSTA (WGME) -- Republican lawmakers rolled out plans Monday to crackdown on welfare fraud.
Among them, a new plan to require drug testing for welfare benefits.
State Representative Jeff Hanley is sponsoring a bill to require that certain welfare applicants be tested for drugs, a bill that could deny state aid based on a positive drug test.
"It'll give the State a tool to force people to face their drug use problem and make a choice to receive help and still receive state aid," Hanley said.
Representative Hanley says the bill would only apply to new TANF applicants.
"The whole idea of it isn't to pick on people or to pressure people off welfare,” Hanley said. “It's to pressure people off drugs."
People who receive assistance from the state have mixed opinions.
Under the bill, not everyone applying for TANF benefits would be tested. Only people convicted of drug felonies, or people who DHHS screeners suspect of drug use would be tested.
"That's what you're doing,” Hanley said. “You're looking for people that are using drugs. And then you're trying to help them off it."
Hanley says anyone who tests positive for drugs would be required to enter a treatment program. If so, they could still be eligible for state aid, but democrats say they're worried the children of drug addicts could miss out on benefits.
The bill's sponsor agreed kids should not be punished for the actions of their patent.