Another State Joins Others To Begin Drug Testing Welfare Recipients

Updated December 7, 2017

Scott Walker, the Governor of Wisconsin, has been talking about drug testing those receiving various forms of welfare for years. His most recent plan involves those getting food stamps. He wants all able-bodied adults who are applying for the program to take a drug test. Now, drug testing those that are applying for welfare has been determined to be unconstitutional and the federal government has blocked other states from taking such measures as a result of this.

So far, Scott’s plan has been approved by the Legislature in the state, but federal rules are making it hard to put the drug testing into place due to conflicts associated with putting more eligibility criteria in place for those seeking food stamp assistance.

Not long ago, Florida work to make it a requirement for food stamp applicants to take a drug test before getting the assistance. In 2014, this was eventually blocked by a federal appeals court on the grounds of it violating constitutional protections against unreasonable searches. It was not even a year later in 2015 when Walker decided to file a lawsuit on the federal level to get permission to give drug tests to people applying for food stamps. It was rejected.

Since there is a new administration in the White House, Walker seems to want to try it again. He has not received a response from the current administration, so Walker appears to be going ahead with his plans on his own without permission from the federal government. The governor feels that he has the power and authority to make this change and ensure that it becomes a rule.

It can take over a year before the plan gets the proper approvals and it cannot begin until that time. It is expected that lawsuits will soon follow it should it be implemented. Of course, the federal government can also choose to step in at any time to block Walker’s plans.

The plan states that if someone fails a drug test, they would be able to get assistance for addiction treatment from the state if they cannot pay for it on their own. Walker believes that this plan will ensure that more people in the workforce will be drug-free.

Naturally, there are people who agree with Walker and those who do not. Those who do not want the drug testing feel that it will not work since it has failed in every other state to try it. For example, in Florida, so few people tested positive that it costs the taxpayers millions more than it saved them.

Others feel that this is cruel and a violation of people’s rights. Those who agree with Walker say that people receiving federal aid should not be able to afford drugs, so they do not want those using drugs to be eligible for federal assistance.

In 2016 alone, 11 governors asked the federal government if they could start drug testing those applying for food stamps. Despite the unconstitutional ruling, it appears that many governors feel that this type of program is something they need.