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Bill Requiring Drug Test For State Assistance Considered Again

A proposal to drug test Ohioans who receive state assistance is making its way around the Statehouse again. Though this time, there is a difference in the measure.

Republican Representative Tim Schaeffer’s bill to drug test Ohioans receiving assistance didn’t go anywhere in two previous general assemblies but this time around, he says this bill is not punitive. He says instead of taking benefits away, Ohioans on the Ohio Works First program who test positive under this bill would be given drug treatment while their dependents could still receive the benefits.

The drug testing would start as part of a three county pilot program that could be expanded statewide. But even with those changes, the idea of drug testing this population is drawing sharp criticism from Democrats and groups like the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio.

They say poor people don’t use drugs any more than wealthier Ohioans, and that there are not enough drug treatment programs now; this bill would just exacerbate the existing shortage. Plus, they say the state cannot afford it.