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You have probably heard that on Tuesday the Senate Finance Committee introduced an amendment to the Mid-Biennium Review (HB 487) that would have created a pilot program to drug-test prospective TANF recipients before receiving benefits.
With only three hours notice, Advocates for Ohio’s Future members Lisa Hamler-Fugitt of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks, Gene King of the Ohio Poverty Law Center, and Danielle Smith of National Association of Social Workers-Ohio Chapter testified against the provision. In addition, AARP Ohio, COHHIO, PCSAO, and other groups sent letters to Finance Committee members.
Thanks to these efforts, the committee pulled the discriminatory and punitive provision from the bill before advancing HB 487 to the Senate floor.
Now we need to thank the Senators and the Governor for their actions. Click here to send a thank you.
Advocates for Ohio's Future is pleased that the controversial provision was removed, but we remain concerned about future efforts to reintroduce this program (a drug-testing pilot) as a stand-alone bill. We suspect what is really behind the drive to drug-test benefits applicants is a desire to stigmatize struggling families and communities. There are all sorts of people who benefit from public programs. Businesses get contracts, farmers receive subsidies, children go to public schools, and older adults receive Medicare. The drug-testing movement in Ohio and across the nation, however, is focusing exclusively on welfare recipients — an easy target.
Advocates for Ohio’s Future will continue to work to prevent such a discriminatory measure from being enacted in Ohio.
Thank you for your advocacy efforts and for saying thanks to elected officials -- they need to hear from you when they make smart policy decisions!
Will Petrik, Outreach Director
P.S. If you're interested in a more detailed play-by-play of the events, check out the following articles:
- Tuesday, May 15, 7:33 AM: Columbus Dispatch, Welfare drug tests to be put in bill
- Wednesday, May 16, 6:51 AM: Columbus Dispatch, Critics blast drug testing to get welfare
- Wednesday, May 16, 4:49 PM: Columbus Dispatch, Proposed welfare drug-testing program removed
- Thursday, May 17, 6:01 AM: Columbus Dispatch, GOP backs off drug testing for welfare recipients