Governor Scott Walker is moving forward with plans to require drug screening for people to access to food.
The proposal would require able-bodied adults to pass a drug screening to benefit from FoodShare, Wisconsin’s food-aid program.
But some close to that program and its sister program, FoodShare Employment and Training (FSET), the associated employment and training program, worry that the proposal would be difficult to enforce and not effective. Vanessa Kuettle is an attorney with Legal Action Wisconsin, and she represents some of their clients that rely on FoodShare and FSET.
Kuettle says there is no evidence that FoodShare or FSET recipients have a higher rate of substance abuse than the general population, nor is there evidence that mandatory drug testing will help FSET recipients gain employment or make them more prepared to enter the job market.
It’s not a new proposal. The full legislature passed it as part of the 2015 budget over two years ago, but it was held up thanks to conflict with federal rules, which prohibit states from requiring drug tests for federal food aid, like FoodShare. Funding for FoodShare comes from the USDA, a federal agency.
The Trump administration hasn’t replied to requests from Walker to clarify if Wisconsin’s drug-screening plan is OK. Walker’s now sending his plan to the Legislature for approval.
Currently, able-bodied adults need to either be working at least 80 hours per month, or be enrolled in job training program like FSET, to be eligible for FoodShare.
Kuettle says not only will the proposal make it harder to access needed food aid, but it also goes against the 4th amendment. The mandatory requirement of drug testing will increase barriers to food access for high risk individuals.
Walker’s proposal now goes to the Legislature, which has four months to review it. If they don’t object by then, the rule goes into effect.
WORT producer Nina Kravinsky has the story.