Bill to drug test welfare recipients will be back


Hannah Troyer

INDIANAPOLIS – A bill that would require some welfare recipients to undergo drug testing is not part of the House Republican agenda but is likely to pass the House again this year, a key lawmakers said Thursday.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said the controversial bill is “one we’re going to enthusiastically endorse and move forward on.”

“We’ve had this battle before and I think the time is right to move forward on that issue,” he said. “And we will see that bill move forward I think.”

Last year, the bill passed the House but not the Senate. It would have required all recipients of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families – the state’s case-assistance welfare program – to take a written test to determine drug abuse tendencies. Those identified would be pooled together and half subjected to a random drug test.

Critics of the bill, including Rep. Cherrish Pryor, D-Indianapolis, said they see the bill as unfair and, to some, unconstitutional.

“The problem is that we are assuming people using food stamps and TANF are doing drugs and that’s not true,” said Pryor. “It is not fair to stereotype anyone. My second concern is that it affects kids. If you cut assistance to parents, you harm the kids. I hope they don’t introduce the bill and focus more on preventative measures.”

Bosma brushed off the bill’s critics, saying the argument about constitutionality is a typical complaint.

“If we didn’t take action because one party or another said it’s not constitutional, we wouldn’t do much around here,” said Bosma.

Hannah Troyer is a reporter at, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.


  1. This is a novel idea that on the surface appears to make sense to the layperson or armchair solver of world problems, but according to statistics from states that have tried this, it only ends up costing more money. Only about 2% of welfare recipients, it turns out, use illicit drugs. It just doesn’t save money. If anything, it disproves the prevailing myths about welfare and drug use.

    The beauty of having 50 states is we can benefit from the intel gathered from experiments of other states…that is, if we actually choose to heed it.

      • Yes.

        But be careful, the rest of them lie and practice spin regularly as well, with MSNBC being the biggest offender on the left as far as I can tell. Anyone who watches cable news anymore isn’t interested in facts, only positive reinforcement for their existing worldview. It’s comfort food for the idle mind.

        • Oh, Brad! Are you still upset with Rachel Maddow for exposing Rand Paul as a plagarist with some well-known racists in his employ?
          You need to take a look at the investigative work she’s doing on the Christie debacle.

          • The guy they tried to paint as a racist wasn’t a racist. Nevertheless, he was let go from Paul’s employ after that. It’s too bad too because he was and still is an intelligent guy with some well-written, thoughtful commentary.

            And no, I do not like Maddow. She practices the same kind of ambush and sensationalism that Bill O’Reilly practices. All the cable news outlets and their talking heads are just announcers in a professional wrestling match. Real journalism is dead.

            I’ve been in the UK for a couple months now. It’s totally different here. You still have political gamesmanship, but at least it takes place within the framework of an intelligent, gentlemanly debate. The audience are participants, asking tough questions of high ranking politicians in an unscripted format. The Sunday shows feature no yelling, no screaming, no demagoguery, and no base level name-calling.

            Journalists here make people like Rachel Maddow look like drunkards.

            • Thank you for pointing out that Maddow and O’Reilly are both self serving sensationalists. I liken her more to Hannity with her snide comments and lies but you exposed them both. Here is my way of comparing them. Matthews = O’Reilly; Maddow = Hannity; Ed = Megyn. Same play book but on a different team they are. These six do more damage than they are worth. They all need to go.

          • Gee, you don’t think the “Southern Avenger” is racist? Did you read the crap he wrote?
            If you did, and still excuse him, that makes you suspect.
            Afterall, the Pauls, both father and son, are well-known for questionable attitudes toward racial minorities.
            I know, I know! Ron didn’t know about those racist newsletters that went out for ages with his name on them. Rand didn’t know that his staff was stealing “Wiki-pedia” articles and handing to him as speeches. At least the Southern Avenger did have to resign, but he kept the Wiki-thieves. It makes me wonder what kind of a relationship he has with the staffers who did that.
            Glenn Greemwald surely appears to have respect for Rachel Maddow as a journalist, so maybe you should take off the pro-Paul glasses and take another look at her work.

        • Gasp! They all lie?

          You mean Chris “I’ve got that Obama thrill up my leg” Matthews doesn’t always tell the truth?

          Thanks for popping my bubble.

    • This program was an “epic fail” in Florida, but Indiana doesn’t like to learn from the mistakes of others, as a rule.
      I certainly think any policy of this sort should also require EVERYONE who gets “government money” to go into the same “pool” for random selection. That includes all elected officials, pensioners, etc.

      • How about the classic republican hypocrite in Florida who was toking up while voting for the testing? Lucky for him, he can start spouting out jesus this and jesus that and the republicans will forget all about it.

    • Doing drug test on welfare recipients is a waste of money and time. Even if they test positive for illicit drugs they will be sent to treatment, which is an added expense. I don’t know how someone came up with 2%, my 20+ years as a social worker here in Evansville would indicate a much higher number. Even if the % was 50% It wouldn’t make any difference. We are not going to take single mothers off welfare. I didn’t sit in some office as a clinical social I stayed close to the disenfranchised and low income with years in Substance Abuse. I live in the City and don’t go to the burbs when my day is done. Clean drug test happen when they are a condition of employment. I’m a strong proponent of welfare to workfare with the welfare recipients that are working have their benefits paid in Cash. You bring this up to folks that work DFC and other social services and they freak out. They say what would they do without us, how would they get by, who would take care of them? The answer is simple, there’s 168 hours in a week, you probably work less than 40, so how do they get by the other 128 hours. I think one of the single most important things to get low income in the workforce is good public transportation and we don’t have that in Evansville.

  2. I find it strange that I’m subjected to a drug test so I can work and pay taxes that would go to those who don’t have the same requirement. So it’s only unconstitutional for those need assistance?

    • Yeah but who pays for the test? If your private employer chooses to drug screen, they take on the expense. In the other case, it just adds to the cost of administering welfare, with a negative return on investment. See my comment above. Only about 2% of welfare recipients fail the tests in other states where it’s been implemented. This is a dumb law.

      • So it’s only “unconstitutional” if the taxpayers pay for it? I will also ask is a drug test more expensive than the assistance provided? Does this 2% include people who decided not to apply? I could care less one way or the other but my socioeconomic situation allows me to have a certain insight into some recipient’s lifestyle choices and these choices make some compelling arguments.

        • I didn’t say anything about “unconstitutional”.

          I just told you…IT WILL INCREASE COSTS. Period.

          The savings from kicking a mere 2% off the rolls won’t come close to covering the costs of testing.

      • They also plan on using a written test that indicates a propensity to use illicit drugs. The test most commonly used in Indiana is the sassi which is costly. More costly than the actual drug test.

    • Well said. Only the most liberal progressives will claim the cost is too high for the testing program, even though they have no clue as to what that cost actually is.

  3. When legislators provide urine and follicle samples in order to hold office, I will support such testing for welfare recipients. What’s good for the goose, ya know?

    I’m so tired of these self-righteous lame brains.

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