Another state considers drug testing welfare recipients

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Monday, November 07, 2011 at 4:58 pm | More from The Florida Independent

Maine is now the latest state to consider following in Florida’s footsteps by requiring welfare recipients to take a drug test before receiving benefits.

 The Bangor Daily News reports that “Gov. Paul LePage wants welfare recipients to submit to random drug testing before they receive benefits, and he plans to submit legislation in January calling for that requirement.”

He made the announcement at a Chamber breakfast on Friday. Maine legislators failed to pass similar legislation last year, but LePage wants legislators to try once more. This would make Maine the next state among dozens considering laws that would require drug testing for government benefit recipients.

A group in Florida that has been touting the supposed success of Florida’s law has a history with Maine’s past welfare reform plans.

The Daily News reports:

Tarren Bragdon, former CEO of the conservative Maine Heritage Policy Center and one of Gov. LePage’s transition team co-chairmen, left Maine several months ago to launch the Foundation for Government Accountability in Naples, Fla.

When Bragdon was head of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, welfare reform was one of his biggest priorities, although some accused the organization of using anecdotes and twisting statistics to support the need for reform.

In the recent Florida ruling, a judge accused Bragdon of similar practices when his group distributed a pamphlet that analyzed the impact of the Florida law require drug testing.

Last month, a Florida district court judge suspended the new law and, in its written decision, dismissed a report by the Foundation for Government Accountability that had been cited by supporters of the law.

“Even a cursory review of certain assumptions in the pamphlet undermines its conclusions,” the judge wrote. “Just by way of example, the pamphlet suggests that the state will save millions in the first year; but it arrives at this number by extrapolating from the 9.6 percent of [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families] applications that are denied for ‘drug-related’ reasons, including those who tested positive and those who declined to be tested. It extends these hypothetical savings for the full year that a TANF applicant who tested positive for drugs would be subject to losing benefits.”

Bragdon’s new “free market” think tank has already set its sights on Florida’s upcoming legislative session.

Florida’s law was recently blocked by a court in Orlando. However, the state has already filed an appeal to that decision.

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