Proposed legislation would require some Michigan welfare recipients to take drug tests

Southfield, MI (WXYZ) - Some welfare recipients in Michigan would have to undergo drug tests under a bill moving through the state legislature.

“If you’re receiving free money from the state, I don’t think you should be using that money to snort up your nose or shoot up your arm, it’s just not right," said Joe Hune, state senator from Hamburg Township and a sponsor of the bill.

“If your case worker deems or believes there is some suspicion that you’re on drugs, they can demand the drug test," Hune said.

The bill, passed in the Senate last week, would establish a yearlong pilot program in several counties under the supervision of the Department of Human Services.

The legislation would appropriate $500,000 for the program. Hune said it will provide accountability as well as savings for the state.

Senator Vincent Gregory, a democrat from Lathrup Village, disagrees with his colleague. “I just think it’s a waste of money," he told 7 Action News.

Gregory voted against the bill last week. He called the legislation discriminatory and said it singles out and punishes the poorest of the poor.

“To be clear, certainly not supporting anybody that’s using drugs and receiving state aid. Definitely not that," said Gregory. "But how are we spending our money? $500,000 just seems like to me that we’re wasting a lot of money.”

Gilda Jacobs, a former legislator, believes political motivation is driving the bill.

“Maybe it’s election year pandering, maybe it’s because this is something people think people want to hear, but there have been a series of bills that are really going after low income people," said Jacobs, who is now CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy.

The bill currently sits in a House committee. Hune predicts It will reach Governor Snyder's desk later this spring.

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