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Proposal To Test Welfare Applicants For Drugs Resurfaces

A state senator is renewing his call for drug testing applicants to Ohio's welfare program known as Ohio Works First.

The bill, which is expected to be formally released tomorrow, would create a pilot program for drug testing. Republican State Senator Tim Schaffer says applicants would undergo a drug test if a reasonable cause is determined during a screening process. If that person tests positive then they will go to a drug treatment program and the state assistance will continue to go to their families.

TS:  We cannot let the cycle of drug-induced dependency to continue.  This is drug-induced poverty and dependency, and I think we all know pretty well, from media reports over the years and decades that this tends to perpetuate itself in our society.  And this program, this legislation, will help break that cycle.

Three counties would volunteer for the two-year pilot, which is similar to a controversial program in Utah. In the past year, that program netted only 12 positive drug tests out of over 4,700 welfare applicants. Opponents of the Ohio proposal charge this bill inappropriately targets low-income families and stereotypes them as drug users. And they contend that the $100,000 dollars included in the proposed law would not be enough to cover drug treatment. Schaffer's bill first surfaced in May, but Senate Republicans pulled it from the governor's biennial budget.