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Congressman Mark Pocan

Representing the 2nd District of Wisconsin

Pocan, Moore Seek Detailed Explanation for Governor’s Drug-Testing Proposal

Sep 30, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan (WI-02) and Gwen S. Moore (WI-04) wrote Governor Scott Walker to request details about his proposal to require mandatory drug testing for recipients of FoodShare and Unemployment Insurance. The signed letter is available here.

“It is time Governor Scott Walker stop blaming the poor for being poor,” Rep. Pocan said. “Before coming up with new, costly, and ineffective policies, Governor Walker needs to first explain to Wisconsin taxpayers how he intends to address next year’s projected $1.9 billion deficit.”

“Drug testing as a condition of eligibility for critical, life-saving social services is a gross insult to Wisconsin’s struggling families,” Rep. Moore said. “The insinuation that those battling poverty are somehow more susceptible to substance abuse is as absurd as it is offensive. Governor Walker needs to focus less on finding ways to discriminate against Wisconsin’s most vulnerable and focus more on fixing his failed policies that contributed to our state’s current economic trouble.”

According to Hunger Task Force, states that have adopted drug testing policies have consistently demonstrated that they are invasive, costly, and constitutionally unsound.

In 2011, Florida passed a similar drug testing requirement, which courts eventually ruled was unconstitutional.

Florida Governor Rick Scott implemented drug testing for all recipients of federal benefits and state workers. The law required applicants to pay for the test and allowed denial of benefits to anyone who refused testing. From July-September 2011, only 9 failures were recorded, while 565 individuals were declined benefits due to refusal. Given that these are low-income individuals, denying benefits to those who refuse to participate assumes those individuals are drug users when in fact they may simply be unable to afford the test. By 2014, courts have repeatedly deemed the process unconstitutional, yet Florida spent nearly $400,000 defending the program in court. Only 2.6 percent of recipients in Florida tested positive for narcotics – below the national average – and the program cost more tax dollars to implement than it saved in denying benefits