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Continued: Minnesota counties, DFLers challenge welfare drug tests

  • Article by: CHRIS SERRES , Star Tribune
  • Last update: January 29, 2014 - 10:13 PM

“It definitely suggests that this wasn’t as large a problem as we were initially led to believe,” said Liz Dodge, social services director for Chisago County.

Hennepin County officials estimate it will cost $36,416 — or $32 for each drug test — for the estimated 1,138 convicted drug felons on public programs in the county. It will cost another $12,500 to send letters notifying people of the tests and responding to questions and appeals, the county estimates.

Carter, the Ramsey County commissioner, said the drug-testing mandate disproportionately affects people of color. Of the 517 people subject to the tests in Ramsey County, 61 percent are black or African-American, she said.

Moran’s bill would give county governments the option of whether to impose drug tests, quashing the state mandate. The legislation is co-sponsored by eight DFL members of the House.

A 1996 study by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that the share of welfare recipients using, abusing or dependent on illegal drugs was similar to the share among adults not receiving welfare.

“There is this false perception that there is a large number of welfare recipients that use illegal drugs,” Moran said. “No research or data supports this perception.”

 

Chris Serres • 612-673-4308

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