Wisconsin is poised to become the first state in the U.S. to drug test able-bodied adults applying for food stamps.
Gov. Scott Walker said the measure would “move barriers” for those seeking jobs.
“Employers have jobs available, but they need skilled workers who can pass a drug test. This rule change means people battling substance use disorders will be able to get the help they need to get healthy, and get back into the workforce,” Walker said.
Under the plan, able-bodied applicants to the state’s FoodShare Employment and Training program will be subject to drug screening and, if necessary, a drug test. Those who test positive will be offered state-funded treatment based on their ability to pay.
FoodShare is Wisconsin’s name for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, commonly known as food stamps.
Current federal rules prohibit states from imposing additional eligibility requirements, such as drug testing, as criteria on food stamps. The federal court blocked a similar drug testing effort by Florida in 2014 leading to Walker filing suit over the federal prohibition. The Trump administration has not decided on Walker’s drug screening request, prompting the Republican governor to move ahead with the plan.
This week, Walker sent the measure to the Legislature for its approval. If the Legislature passes the measure, state officials will begin preparing to implement the testing, a process that could take more than a year.