Michigan House passes bills on truancy, drug use by welfare recipients

May 2, 2013 at 4:21 PM
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LANSING, Mich., May 2 (UPI) -- Michigan's House of Representatives passed two bills that cut welfare benefits for families whose children are truant or if an adult tests positive for drugs.

The House passed the bills Wednesday, The Detroit News reported.

One of the bills would cut all cash assistance from the Family Independence Program for families who have children between age 16 and 18 who are deemed truants by their public school. Assistance would be partially cut if truant children under age 16, said state Rep. Al Pscholka, the bill sponsor.

"I hope we don't save a single dime," said Pscholka, R-Stevensville. "The idea is we want those kids in school, so they have the opportunity."

The other bill directs the Department of Human Services to order suspicion-based drug testing for cash welfare recipients over age 18. If a welfare recipient tests positive for drugs one time, they are referred to a substance abuse program. Their assistance would be cut off after if they test positive a second time and they would be barred from reapplying for assistance for six months.

"It seems we're putting a hammer on individuals who just don't have the opportunity to speak for themselves," said Rep. David Nathan, D-Detroit, who voted against both bills. "We need to continue to assist and not be punitive in our actions against people who need help."

Both bills will now move on to the state Senate for a vote.

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