Drug Testing of the Unemployed and Welfare Recipients Begins

Monday, November 9, 2015, was the first day that Wisconsin’s unemployed and welfare recipients had to undergo drug examinations. All applicants were given questionnaires to fill out and, depending on the responses, may be submitted for a drug test. After given the actual test, those who test positive will be referred a state treatment program. Food stamps, unemployment benefits, and job training fall under this new scrutiny, making it likely that a decrease in usage of these programs and increase in usage of state treatment plans will soon follow.

In July, Gov. Scott Walker had added this provision into the state budget, stating “Employers across the state frequently tell me they have good-paying jobs available in high-demand fields, but need their workers to be drug-free. These important entitlement reforms will help more people find family-supporting jobs, moving them from government dependence to true independence.”

Opponents of this provision have stated various arguments: citing studies that show the implementation of drug testing welfare recipients costing more than paying he welfare recipients that were previously eligible, showing the similarities between Wisconsin’s and Florida’s drug testing bill (the latter of which being struck down as unconstitutional), and citing studies that show that welfare recipients don’t do drugs at much higher rates than anyone else.

Future court dates could be set for this provision. In the meantime, research will be done to examine how effective and beneficial this provision will be to Wisconsin. Time will tell how this bill will become part of Wisconsin’s history.