Most everyone is willing to help folks who are down and out, but not give them dollars for drugs.
That is why we support Michigan House Bill 4118. The bill, passed by the House last year, penalizes welfare recipients who test positive for drugs. The bill was recently tweaked by the Senate and sent back to the House.
The original bill would require testing of a welfare recipient if an "empirical screening tool" indicates a reasonable suspicion, and would prohibit benefits for six months if a person tests positive a second time (or refuses "treatment" the first time).
If the recipient has children, an appropriate "protective payee" would be designated to receive welfare benefits on their behalf.
This would begin as a one-year pilot program in three counties.
We fully support this legislation, and hope the day is close that it’s enforced in all of Michigan and the entire country.
Some opponents think this kind of legislation “picks” on welfare recipients and violates their rights. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Since when is it anyone’s right to buy illegal drugs?
Other opponents believe the bill would punish the children on welfare. We believe Michigan has answered this complaint with the “protective payee” provision.
If a person on welfare uses welfare dollars to buy illegal drugs, it’s our money being used to commit a crime.
The bill would also help those on welfare. First of all, they shouldn’t be using welfare dollars for drugs, since it’s a crime. Secondly, they can better spend their precious dollars on things like food and clothing for themselves and their families.
Staying free of drugs would also make the welfare recipients more employable.
A Florida judge ruled drug testing of welfare recipients in that state unconstitutional due to illegal search and seizure. However, we believe the provision in the Michigan bill that requires a “reasonable suspicion” alleviates that concern.
We encourage the Michigan Senate and House to reach agreement and pass this much-needed legislation.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty, Fred VandenBrand and Mark Brooky. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.