Panel backs bill for Indiana welfare drug testing

Applicants for assistance would have to fill out a written drug test to determine if they should be tested.

A bill that would require screening for possible drug use welfare recipients is moving forward in the Indiana Legislature.

A House committee voted 8-4 on Wednesday to advance the bill. The bill would require Indiana residents receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families be screened through a questionnaire and drug tested if they show a likelihood of addiction. Benefits would continue if they test positive as long as they enter treatment.

An amendment removed a mandate for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to show photo identification.

Committee chairwoman Rebecca Kubacki of Syracuse says photo identification is impractical because of the cost and inevitable battle with the federal government.

Bill sponsor Rep. Jud McMillin of Brookville says might try to reinsert the requirement later.

A similar measure stalled in 2012 and 2013.

Eyewitness News spoke to a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipient last year about the questionnaire.

"I have a drink first thing in the morning to steady my nerves?" read TANF recipient Katrina Paggett from the written test.

"Are they serious?" she laughed.

"True or false? Most people would lie to get what they want?" continued Paggett, reading another question on the inventory that claims a 94 percent success rate in predicting a person's chances of using drugs.

If the law passes, recipients like Paggett may have to answer those questions in order to continue receiving assistance.

Rep. Jud McMillin, who authored last year's proposal, wants to make sure people who get money from the state aren't using it to buy drugs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.