Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: “New Welfare Rule: State to Start Drug Testing Convicted Felons”

Posted on August 6, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Audio link here.

    New Welfare Rule: State to Start Drug Testing Convicted Felons
    Drug testing of convicted felons who are applying or receiving welfare is nothing new.

    Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

    In 2014, at least 18 states introduced plans that would require drug screening or testing for welfare applicants or recipients.

    DSC_0113Today, I am announcing that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services is moving forward with its plan to conduct drug tests of convicted drug felons who are applying for or receiving welfare benefits.

    Over the last several months, the State has been focused on drug-testing measures that not only ensure privacy and fairness, but also reinforce accountability in the program.

    The tests will be required for drug felons who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF. Federal rules support drug testing as part of the federal TANF money that Maine receives.

    When people apply for welfare benefits, they must report whether they have a prior drug-related felony conviction. If the answer is yes, the State will schedule a drug test and notify the individual 24 hours prior to the actual test.

    If a person tests positive, they will have the option to be tested a second time. At any time, an individual can avoid termination of benefits by enrolling in an approved substance abuse program. Those who fail to disclose they are convicted drug felons will lose their welfare benefits immediately.

    Our welfare programs, including TANF, are designed to be a short-term benefit that assists families and children with the basics of everyday living. If someone tests positive, they are putting their drug habits or addictions ahead of their family’s needs. We must do all that we can to ensure children’s needs are being met and that TANF recipients have the best possible chance at economic independence.

    Being drug-free is a critical aspect of escaping from poverty and moving toward self-sufficiency.

    Protecting the trust of taxpayers is one of my greatest responsibilities. I will do everything in my power to ensure welfare benefits are used for the truly needy and not provided to support people’s drug habits or addictions.

    However, it’s no secret: Maine has a drug problem. When we identify people who are on drugs, we must make an effort to help them break their addiction. Our welfare system depends on it, but more importantly, our society does.

    If you have a drug problem or know someone struggling with addiction, the State has resources to help. Please call 2-1-1 and someone will help you find services in your area. Addiction does not have to control your life. Again, call 2-1-1 for help today.

    Thank you for listening.

—–

Democratic leaders Senate President Justin Alfond and Speaker of the House Mark Eves have issued their own responses in a press release, agreeing with the Governor’s statement that this is “nothing new” while accusing the chief executive of politicizing enforcement of a three year old law.

More later on the Mike Michaud proposed “Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services” mentioned in the release- here is a clip from his June press conference, rolling out the idea to Maine media in Augusta.

    LePage Continues to Play Politics With Welfare to Distract From Lagging Jobs Record

    Governor announces he’ll finally enforce a law that’s been on the books for years to score election year political points

     

    AUGUSTA — Top legislative leaders on Wednesday said Governor LePage’s latest announcement that he’ll finally enforce a 2011 law* to drug test convicted drug felons whose families rely on temporary assistance from the state is just the latest in his campaign effort to distract from his lagging economic record. The leaders also said the Governor’s failure to enforce the law was another reason to support an independent Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services.

    Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick, who helped negotiate the 2011 law to ensure substance abuse treatment was included, called the Governor’s announcement “pure politics.”

     
    eves alfond

    “This law has been on the books for years, yet LePage hasn’t enforced it,” said Eves. “We need leaders who are serious about solving problems and enforcing the law, not simply scoring political points in an election year at a time when Maine’s economy is lagging. It’s also one more reason to support an independent Inspector General at the Department.”

     

    Earlier this week, Business Insider ranked Maine 47th for economic growth in the country, so now the Governor is stepping up his welfare rhetoric.

     

    This is more election year politics. The governor is trumpeting a law that already exists and he hasn’t enforced,” said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland. “The timing is peculiar given that he made this stale announcement the day after another report ranks Maine’s economy at the bottom of the pack. The evidence is mounting that Paul LePage’s policies are failing Maine people.”

     

    According to national labor statistics, the country has recovered 106 percent of the non-farm payroll jobs lost during the recession. Regionally, New England has recovered 116 percent of jobs. Maine lags behind, recovering only 63 percent of the jobs lost in the recession.

     

    Under Paul LePage’s economic leadership, Maine has experienced, a job creation record among the worst in the U.S. since the bottom of the recession, ranking 42nd out of 50 states in the latest report (June 2014). Additionally, Maine has the 5th highest rate in the country of people who work only part-time because they can’t find full-time jobs.

     

    ###

     

    *According to Title 22, Section 20, Denial of assistance based on positive drug test:  A recipient of TANF assistance may be denied TANF assistance as described in this subsection. A. The department may administer a drug test to a recipient of TANF assistance who has been convicted of a drug-related felony, as described in Section 115 of PRWORA, within 20 years of that person’s date of conviction…If the 2nd drug test confirms that the person is using an illegal drug, the person may avoid termination of TANF assistance by enrolling in a substance abuse treatment program appropriate to the type of illegal drug being used by that person. [RR 2011, c. 1, §33 (RAL).]

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4 Responses to “Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: “New Welfare Rule: State to Start Drug Testing Convicted Felons””

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Where there is smoke, there’s fire… http://colorlines.com/archives/2012/05/drug_testing.html

“In early December 2011, a baby-faced man named Terran Bragdon travelled from Florida to Arizona to speak at ALEC’s Health and Human Services Taskforce. Bragdon had only recently moved to Florida, but had already made a name for himself among national movement conservatives. He’d just left a job in Maine as the director of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a right wing think tank, to start a new organization, the Foundation for Government Accountability. And his first move in Florida was to release a report on drug testing.

Bragdon penned a study that offered some of the only data, in any state, purporting to show the fiscal benefits of a drug testing program. It gave Tea Party Republicans just what they needed: the appearance of social science to back up their poverty bashing. On its website, Bragdon’s organization highlights a congratulatory quote from the director of the ALEC task force.

“Tarren showed why members should look to Florida for free market Medicaid welfare reforms that strengthen these safety net programs for those who truly need them, and save money for the taxpayers who fund them,” the note reads.

Bragdon told Colorlines.com his presentation on Florida at the ALEC meeting in Arizona stirred significant interest among members. He insists that ALEC has produced no model legislation on drug testing and benefits; indeed, no model legislation or secret memo has turned up. But many of the legislators who’ve introduced the drug testing bills around the country are ALEC members and some may well have heard Bragdon speak.

ALEC has previously released model bills that encourage drug testing in private industry, for all employers with state contracts, for public housing applicants and for all people on parole.”

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Lest we forget, Tarren was not only the head of Maine Heritage Policy Council, but also LePage’s advisor.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/04/05/politics/lepage-adviser-heads-to-florida/

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The Rachel Maddow Show was on the right track; they just didn’t track down who Bragdon is. http://www.politifact.com/…/rachel-maddow-claims…/

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