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State Lawmaker Wants Drug Tests For Welfare Recipients

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Illinois State Capitol

Illinois State Capitol buillding in Springfield (AP Photo)

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WBBM) – A state lawmaker wants welfare recipients to submit to drug tests in order to receive aid, but he admits the proposal isn’t ready for a full debate – and probably won’t make it into law this year.

This isn’t the first time State Rep. Jim Sacia (R-Pecatonica) has introduced such a measure. He first introduced it three years ago when a constituent asked him why welfare applicants don’t submit to drug tests, but many job applicants do.

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This year’s bill would create a pilot program to administer the drug tests in three counties for three years.

Sacia cautions his bill will not fix all welfare problems. But he says lawmakers must create a way to foster a change in recipients’ attitudes, and this is a good start.

“We have to come up with a way, and this is a Panacea I recognize that, where we’re creating a motivational factor for people to want to get off the welfare rolls, to get back to legitimate employment,” explains Sacia.

Sacia says House Bill 11 is imperfect, but is getting better. He says one of the bills’ amendments will eventually address how to pay for the drug tests, but the specifics have yet to be hammered out.

The proposal has received significant push back in its first three years, namely from the House Human Services Committee.

“I will not move the bill until I get a bill that I can get those who are adamantly opposed to it, maybe not to necessarily say they’re in support of the bill, but to go neutral on [it],” says Sacia.

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