Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Maine Law Requires Drug Testing for Some Welfare Recipients
January 21st, 2015/

Under a new law, Maine will require drug testing for welfare recipients with a prior drug conviction within the past 20 years who indicate a potential for drug dependency.

People who test positive for drugs, or who refuse to take a drug test, will have to enter a rehabilitation program in order to continue receiving aid, Time reports.

“[Governor Paul LePage] is respecting the wishes of hardworking taxpayers who want to know that the hand up they provide is being used appropriately,” said Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew in a statement.

The law was approved in 2011, but the state delayed implementing it while the state attorney general considered how to minimize lawsuits against it. Attorney General Janet Mills approved a modified version of the law earlier this month.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 12 states have passed legislation regarding drug testing or screening for public assistance applicants or recipients (Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah.) Some of the laws apply to all applicants, while others include specific language that there is a reason to believe the person is engaging in illegal drug activity or has a substance use disorder. Some state laws require a specific screening process.

In December, a federal appeals court struck down a Florida law that required welfare applicants to undergo drug tests. The court ruled the law was an “unreasonable search.” The law, passed in 2011, required drug tests for welfare applicants even if they were not suspected of using drugs. The court ruled Florida officials failed to show a substantial need to test all welfare applicants. Under the law, applicants had to submit to urine tests.

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