LANSING — Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation today that creates a drug-testing program for adult welfare recipients who are suspected of using drugs.
The Republican-backed proposals, House Bill 4118 and Senate Bill 275, were among several bills approved by Snyder. The one-year pilot program will be implemented in three counties that have not yet been determined.
Under the program, welfare recipients or applicants suspected of drug use will be required to take a substance abuse test. Refusal to take the test will result in being ineligible for benefits for six months.
A positive drug test would lead to referrals to treatment programs. If an individual refuses to participate in the program or fails to submit to periodic substance abuse testing required under the program, their assistance will be terminated. Benefits can be restored after a person passes a substance abuse test.
Opponents of the legislation, including the Michigan League for Public Policy, have said similar programs in other states haven’t saved taxpayers money. The nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency estimated a statewide program would cost roughly $700,000 to $3.4 million, while potentially saving $370,000 to $3.7 million in caseload reductions.
The American Civil Liberties Union has said the program would promote ugly stereotypes of poor people and discriminate against a group that doesn’t use drugs at a rate significantly higher than the general population.
“We give out tax credits to schools, we give out tax credits to students, we give out tax credits to police and fire (departments),” Sen. Vincent Gregory, D-Southfield, said earlier this year on the Senate floor. “And yet the only (group) that we are now saying is subject to drug screening are the poor — the poorest of the poor.”
The pilot program must be completed by Sept. 30, 2016.
Snyder also signed bills Friday that extend the Michigan film credit program by seven years to 2021; update who can administer the oath of office for state representatives and senators to include the secretary of the Michigan Senate and clerk of the Michigan House of Representatives; and allow cemetery owners to recover burial rights for abandoned burial plots.
He vetoed legislation that would have established procedures for naming Michigan delegates and alternates to a federal constitutional convention, in the event one is called.