IL lawmaker wants to tie welfare to drug testing

Jan 24, 2014

Though federal welfare rules allow for drug testing, only a handful of states have actually made it a prerequisite for assistance.

Republican Representative Dwight Kay, of Glen Carbon, wants Illinois added to that list.While Kay would deny welfare to people who fail drug tests, he would use it as a screening tool to get people into treatment.

He says helping this population would be getting at a cause of poverty, rather than just treating the symptoms.

 "If we're not really, really careful, we're going to be perpetuating a bad habit, without dealing with the nature of the illness -- and it is an illness. And all the while we're doing that, we may be paying a whole lot of people at the expense of not paying other people who don't have this addiction."

 Kay's legislation would deduct the cost of screening from the first month's welfare check for those who pass the test. According to Springfield-based MidWest DNA & Drug Testing, that costs about 40 dollars.