Welfare Drug Testing in WisconsinCarlos Gamino is a lawyer in Milwaukee and Waukesha who keeps an eye on new developments in our legal system. One of those recent developments: Governor Scott Walker moving forward with a plan to drug test welfare recipients. Here’s Carlos’ take on whether welfare recipients should be tested for the use of illegal drugs.

Governor Scott Walker is no stranger to controversy, and his latest move is sure to stir some up; he’s said before that he’d like to require drug testing for “able-bodied adults receiving unemployment insurance payments or benefits under FoodShare, the successor to the food stamps program.”

But what does that really mean?

The details of Governor Walker’s plan haven’t yet come together – or, if they have, they haven’t been released yet – but he may be following in the footsteps of other states that have recently implemented drug testing for recipients of social service programs.

Florida, for example, caught 2 percent of public assistance applicants using drugs. A federal judge struck down Florida’s law about mandatory drug testing, though, and said that it was unconstitutional.

Missouri spent $786 per drug test to uncover 3 percent of welfare recipients who were drug users. That in itself is a complete mystery, because you can purchase a 99.9 percent accurate home drug test at the pharmacy for under $30 that covers amphetamines, meth, ecstasy, marijuana, cocaine and opiates.

Hopefully, if Governor Walker’s plan does come to fruition, it’s not going to cost taxpayers a small fortune like it did in Florida and Missouri.

There’s also the question of constitutionality. With federal judges ruling that Florida’s law was unconstitutional, that could set the stage for Governor Walker to end up defending his plan after it’s already been implemented. (The state of Florida had to reimburse taxpayers, pay the legal fees to defend the policy and make up for those denied assistance, all to the tune of over $600,000.)

What do You Think?

I’d love to hear what you think about Governor Walker’s plan to drug test welfare recipients. Share your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.

Carlos Gamino