Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has said he wants recipients of food stamps and unemployment benefits to undergo drug tests, a move that could face possible legal trouble.
The state is already one of five that require public assistance applicants who are convicted of drug felony charges to be tested for drugs, along with Maine, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Virginia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Should Walker propose a broader measure that involves testing benefits applicants either randomly or without suspicion that they have used drugs, it could be found unconstitutional because of a 2003 Michigan Court of Appeals case, the NCSL said.
In 2010, at least 12 states tried passing legislation that would have enacted “suspicionless” drug testing for public assistance recipients, but none passed.
Two states have passed legislation this year requiring drug tests for some public assistance applicants. In Alabama, applicants can be drug tested if there is “reasonable suspicion,” which can include convictions related to drugs within the five previous years or failing to pass a “screening.” Mississippi assiatance applicants must fill out a questionnaire and then take a drug test if their answers raise suspicions of drug use.
Walker, who won reelection last week against Democratic challenger Mary Burke, has not offered details for such a plan, but spokeswoman Laurel Patrick told the Pioneer Press that Walker would work with his cabinet to “craft a specific proposal” in the next several weeks.