In addition to the existing drug testing laws in Illinois, there are currently two proposed laws that could impact public assistance recipients in our state.
In 2013, there were approximately 46,000 Illinois families that relied on Tax Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds. TANF recipients including families and pregnant women receive up to $432 each month to buy food and other non-medical essentials. But many people are concerned about how the tax-funded TANF money is being used once it is dispersed to recipients.
Last year alone, there were 5 bills proposing drug testing for TANF recipients. This year, another, House Bill 5477, has emerged. Here are the details on the Republican-backed bill.
Welfare & Drug Testing Laws in Illinois
Representative Dwight Kay of Glen Carbon has proposed a bill requiring drug testing for Illinois TANF applicants. Unlike past proposals that simply stripped applicants of their TANF benefits if they failed drug testing, Kay says his law would help welfare recipients who are abusing drugs.
Under Kay’s plan, the drug testing, which would cost $16 per person, would be funded by the recipient’s first TANF payment. After submitting to drug testing, applicants that passed the test would receive their benefits, while those who failed have a choice: either undergo drug abuse treatment or lose their benefits.
Kay hopes that HB 5477 can help low-income people struggling with substance abuse and take advantage of the underused state substance abuse programs offered by the Department of Human Services.
Opponents to Drug Testing for Illinois Welfare Applicants
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has taken issue to laws that they believe impede the rights of welfare recipients. ACLU’s Illinois branch argues that corporations receiving tax breaks don’t have to submit to drug testing, and that drug use is similar among different socioeconomic classes, suggesting there is an unfounded association between poverty and drug abuse.
Welfare Drug Testing in Other States
At least 28 other states have considered laws requiring drug testing for TANF applicants, including Florida. On December 30, 2013, a Florida judge ruled that the state’s welfare drug testing law was unconstitutional because it targeted a specific population, suspended their rights, and amounted to “suspicionless, warrantless drug testing.”
The Future of Drug Testing & Public Assistance
It remains to be seen whether Kay’s bill will pass and how Illinois will approach drug testing for welfare recipients. ARCpoint Labs of Elk Grove Village will keep you up-to-date on all legislation.
In the mean time, if you or someone you know needs reliable drug testing in Elk Grove Village, IL, our walk-in facility is the ideal solution. We offer workplace testing, family drug testing, court-ordered drug testing, DOT-compliant testing, and athletics and academic testing, including hair, saliva, blood, and urine screenings. To learn more about our drug testing services, call us today at (847) 264-4677.