Wisconsin hopes to become first state to drug test food stamp users

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Wisconsin may become the first state to conduct food stamp drug tests

Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch (R) explains why she supports her state's plan to conduct drug tests of adults applying for food stamps.

Wisconsin could become the first state in the nation to conduct forced drug testing of childless adults applying for food stamps, a new initiative proposed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker that government officials say is “common sense.”

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Under the plan, able-bodied adults accepting FoodShare -- the Wisconsin version of food stamps -- would first have to undergo a drug screening before being able to move forward with working or undergoing work training for 80 hours a month, Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch told FOX Business’ Liz MacDonald.

If the drug screen showed that FoodShare participant may be using drugs, they would have to proceed with a drug test. And if that turned up positive, the individual would receive government help to undergo addiction treatment, she said. More than 42 million Americans, a record level, currently rely on Food Stamps, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We’re going to get you help,” she said. “And once you’re in recovery, we’re going to help you get a job and get the training you need in order to reconnect with the economy. To me, this is compassionate.”

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The way the policy is framed, Kleefisch said, it not only stops drug use on jobs that are largely manufacturing and agriculture based, but it encourages addiction rehabilitation that’s funded mainly by the government.

Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature approved the plan more than two years ago, but federal rules that prohibit states from imposing additional eligibility criteria on food stamp recipients have slowed its course. Now, the legislature has four months to review the rule. It could take more than a year after its approval before it went into effect.

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Other states that have attempted to pass similar laws have been stopped by the federal government. In 2014, Florida had a drug test requirement for food stamp recipients that was blocked by a federal appeals court. Though he’s not won federal government approval, Walker is moving ahead with the legislation.

“This is really good policy that helps people not only defeat addiction but also get the power of a paycheck and the dignity of work,” Kleefisch said.

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