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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

 6:00 PM 

Drug testing for work programs passes Assembly

A GOP bill that would require drug testing for some applicants for work-training programs passed the Assembly on a 62-33 vote.

Rep. Adam Neylon, R-Pewaukee, voted against the bill, and Rep. Chris Danou, D-Trempealeau, voted in favor.

Dems did not have time to debate passage of the bill, having focused instead on pushing AB 101, which offers an alternative way for the state to take federal Medicaid money.

Bill author Rep. Mike Rohrkaste, R-Neenah, said the bill is not meant to humiliate people or make it more difficult for them to get back to work. Rather, he said, the opposite is true.

"To me, this bill is a way out for people with substance-abuse issues," he said.

AB 191, which mirrors a budget proposal by Gov. Scott Walker, would require anyone who applies for work-training programs such as W-2, Transitional Jobs or Transform Milwaukee Jobs complete a questionnaire to screen for abuse of controlled substances. If the Department of Children and Families or an agency it contracts with determines screening shows the possibility of drug abuse, the applicant then would take a drug test.

If the test is positive for controlled substances, and the applicant does not have a prescription, the only way to remain eligible for the work-training program would be to enter substance-abuse treatment, which would be paid for by DCF. Those in the program would be allowed one additional failed test.

The guv attached an emergency statement to the bill. That lets a bill that carries a state expense to pass prior to budget approval.

AB 191 would set aside $500,000 for the treatment program.

The bill also would introduce similar drug testing and treatment for some enrollees in the FoodShare employment and training program. But that uses federal money and would require a waiver before DHS could institute the testing.


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