Bringing the Economy Home

Idaho Could Follow Other States in Pursuing Drug Tests for Welfare Recipients

The New York Times is drawing attention to the large number of states that have this year considered implementing drug testing for people who receive public assistance.

“[Thirty-six] states considered drug testing for recipients of cash assistance from the major welfare program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures; 12 states proposed it for unemployment insurance; and some also considered making it a requirement for food stamps, home heating assistance and other programs.” – The New York Times

The idea is, of course, a polarizing one, and this state has had its own flirtation with it.  In 2010, the Idaho Legislature asked the Department of Health and Welfare to study the costs of implementing random drug testing for adults receiving public assistance.  According to the department’s resulting analysis, such a program would cost more than it would save.

Idaho Legislature

Rep. Judy Boyle is a rancher, writer and small business owner from Midvale.

Reached today, Rep. Judy Boyle, a Midvale Republican who co-sponsored the resolution requesting the study, said the Department of Health and Welfare took too narrow a view.  “My concern is to help people get off drugs,” she said.  “I know there are serious problems with people trading their food stamps for drugs, so we’re just enabling people to stay on drugs.”

Boyle says she has prepared draft legislation, and she plans to introduce a bill in the upcoming session. “It’s not to throw people off of welfare.  It’s to help them,” she said.


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