UPDATE: Wisconsin AG sues feds over food stamp drug testing

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UPDATED Tuesday, July 14, 2015---5:43 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel has asked a federal judge to declare state budget provisions requiring food stamp recipients to undergo drug testing are legal.

The budget Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed on Sunday contains language requiring food stamp recipients to undergo drug screening. If they fail the screen they must go through drug testing and treatment.

Schimel filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Milwaukee against a number of federal food officials noting one of them sent an email to the state in email warning that states are prohibited from imposing any additional eligibility conditions on food stamp recipients. The lawsuit alleges federal law says states shall not be prohibited from testing welfare recipients for controlled substances.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture didn't immediately respond to an email.

Copyright 2015: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, May 19, 2015---5:48 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Legislature's budget committee has approved requiring drug screenings for recipients of public aid programs like food stamps and unemployment benefits.

Gov. Scott Walker had proposed the testing. The Assembly last week passed a pair of bills to do that, and the Joint Finance Committee on Tuesday approved it 11-4 with some revisions.

Under the proposal, applicants for state job training programs such as Wisconsin Works, people on the FoodShare program and most of those seeking unemployment benefits would have to take a questionnaire that may subject them to drug tests later.

Those who fail the drug tests would get taxpayer-funded treatment.

Democratic critics say the state won't get a federal waiver for the testing, it's unconstitutional and expensive. The exact cost of administering the tests is not known.

Copyright 2015: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, May 19, 2015---1:48 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Legislature's budget committee is set to vote on Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to require drug screenings for recipients of public aid programs like food stamps and unemployment benefits.

The Assembly last week approved a pair of similar bills. The Joint Finance Committee on Tuesday is also voting on the issue and is expected to go along with what the Assembly did.

Under the change, applicants for state job training programs such as Wisconsin Works, people on the FoodShare program and most of those seeking unemployment benefits would have to take a questionnaire that may subject them to drug tests later.

Those who fail the drug tests would get taxpayer-funded treatment.

A federal waiver would be needed, and similar requirements have run into legal challenges in other states.

Copyright 2015: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, May 13, 2015--8:24 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Drug tests for some Wisconsin residents seeking unemployment or food stamp benefits would be required under a pair of bills poised for votes in the state Assembly.

The Republican-sponsored proposals are up for a vote Wednesday.

The bills would require applicants for state job training programs such as Wisconsin Works and certain applicants for unemployment benefits to answer questionnaires screening for drug abuse. Based on the answers, applicants could be forced to undergo tests and enter state-sponsored treatment to retain their eligibility.

Gov. Scott Walker has proposed similar testing requirements in his state budget.

The bills would also have to pass the Senate before going to Walker for his consideration.

Copyright 2015: Associated Press

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UPDATED: Wednesday, May 6, 2015 --- 8:55 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Wisconsin legislative committee has advanced two Republican bills that would establish drug testing for public benefit recipients.

The Assembly's public benefits reform committee approved the bills Wednesday almost on party lines. The measures passed on 8-6 votes with Republicans voting in favor. Rep. Adam Neylon, a Pewaukee Republican, voted against the measures.

The bills would require applicants for state job training programs such as Wisconsin Works and certain applicants for unemployment benefits to answer questionnaires screening for drug abuse. Based on the answers, applicants could be forced to undergo tests and enter state-sponsored treatment to retain their eligibility.

Minority Democrats on the committee prepared two dozen amendments to the bills. None was approved.

The bills now move to the full Assembly where they will be debated next week.

Copyright: Associated Press 2015

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UPDATED Wednesday, May 6, 2015----10:46 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A legislative committee is set to consider two Republican bills that would establish drug testing for public benefit recipients.

The Assembly's public benefits reform committee is scheduled to vote Wednesday on bills that would require applicants for state job training programs such as Wisconsin Works and certain applicants for unemployment benefits to answer questionnaires screening for drug abuse. Based on the answers, applicants could be forced to undergo tests and enter state-sponsored treatment to retain their eligibility.

Minority Democrats on the committee have prepared two dozen amendments to the bills, setting up potentially hours of debate.

Committee approval would send the bills to the full Assembly next week.

Copyright 2015: Associated Press

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UPDATE: Thursday, January 22, 2015 --- 10:26 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker is following through on his campaign promise to require drug testing for public aid recipients in Wisconsin and limiting how long they can receive benefits.

The potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate on Thursday announced more details about those plans that he first proposed during last year's campaign. The drug-testing requirements and benefits restrictions will be included in his two-year budget proposal being released on Feb. 3.

Walker is proposing that drug testing be required for those applying for or receiving benefits from a variety of state aid, including unemployment insurance and FoodShare, which is Wisconsin's food stamp program.

Walker says those who fail the drug test will be given the opportunity to participate in a free drug-testing program and receive job training.

Copyright: Associated Press 2015
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Posted, Monday January 12, 2015 --- 6:02 p.m.

A Wisconsin group sent a message to Republican lawmakers today in an interesting way, delivering urine sample cups to their offices.
It's all in protest of the Governor's plans to drug test those on welfare.

Putting on scrubs, and gloves, members of the Wisconsin National Organization for Women started knocking.

Delivering, nicely labeled, never used, urine cups.

The group says they want to spread awareness to lawmakers that drug testing those on welfare will only cause the state more problems.

"First of all it's a violation of a right to privacy a federal court of appeals has already ruled that it's a violation of the 4th amendment," said Wisconsin NOW President, Dayna Long.

Saying the only thing that would come out of the policy would be embarrassment for those that are already down on their luck.

"This isn't about saving the state money or removing people from welfare this is about vilifying people who are receiving public assistance," Long added.

But Governor Scott Walker says differently. In an interview with him late last month the Governor told us about a lot of job openings right now that aren't being filled because applicants are failing drug tests. He says hopefully this will be an incentive to stay clean and allow people to get those jobs and transition off public aid.

"To ensure that we're not spending all this time supporting them, getting to move into the workforce to find out they cant get hired because they can't pass a drug test," said Walker.

The Governor adding that the goal is to put everyone in a job that wants one. The group saying the Governor just doesn't understand.

"People don't stay on public assistance because it's fun or because it's glamorous or because they'd rather have a free ride while they use drugs, they're on it because they're struggling."

The Governor's plan would only drug test those who are working age, and he says this is a top priority this term.