News From Terre Haute, Indiana

State News

April 11, 2013

Court challenge likely for welfare drug-testing bill

INDIANAPOLIS — Both chambers of the Indiana General Assembly have passed a bill that ties drug testing to welfare benefits, but if signed into law, the next debate may be on the question: Is it constitutional?

The bill’s sponsors say they’ve carefully crafted the language to avoid the kind of legal challenges that have stalled similar drug-testing programs in other states.

But opponents say there’s no getting around the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and predict it’s headed for court.

“I think it’s unconstitutional and going to be challenged,” said Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union chapter in Indiana. “And we’d certainly be willing to make that challenge.”

In February, a federal appeals court ruled against Florida’s testing of welfare applicants for drug use in a case brought by the ACLU.

The ruling didn’t strike down Florida’s drug-testing requirement directly. But the appeals court held that the state failed to show a direct threat to public safety that would justify drug testing without suspicion of wrongdoing.

Florida’s governor has vowed to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Florida drug-testing program has been on a court-ordered hold since 2011, as the legal fight plays out. At least four other states have adopted laws that allow drug testing of welfare applicants suspected of drug use.

Here in Indiana, the backers of House Bill 1483 hope to avoid a scenario similar to Florida.  

They argue that the Indiana legislation is different than the Florida law. In Florida, anyone who applies for the federal cash-assistance welfare program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, is eligible to be drug-tested.

The Indiana legislation would require all TANF applicants in Indiana to take a 65-question written test used nationally to screen people for potential drug abuse. Only test-takers who show a high propensity to abuse drugs would be part of a pool randomly required to take a urine drug test. Those who fail would be steered into a drug treatment program.  

“We’re not making everyone subject to drug testing, only those who show a high propensity for substance abuse disorder,” said Republican Sen. Randy Head, a Logansport lawyer who sponsored the bill in the Senate.  

But Falk said the 65-question written test in the Indiana bill is not enough to overcome the hurdles that courts have imposed on mandatory drug testing.

“Failing a (written) screening test isn’t proof of anything,” Falk said. “It’s an invasive search without probable cause.”

Both Head and the bill’s author, Republican Rep. Jud McMillin, a Brookville lawyer, defended the bill during debates on the legislation, assuring lawmakers it would stand up to a constitutional challenge.

But the Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, an Anderson lawyer, disgreed. “This is a constitutional lawyer’s dream,” Lanane said.

McMillin and Head have argued that the intent of the bill isn’t punitive, since the TANF program is supposed to be only for people who are actively looking for work or going to school to get training to get a job.

“What we’re trying to do is give somebody a hand up instead of a handout,” McMillin said.

A TANF recipient who tests positive for drugs would be allowed to keep their benefits but would have to enter a treatment program. The treatment program could be a free program, like Narcotics Anonymous, Head said.

“There are plenty of NA programs in church basements across the state,” Head said.

The Indiana bill also requires those TANF recipients who’ve been steered into a drug treatment program to stay clean or risk losing their benefits.

It requires them to submit to follow-up urine drug tests and cuts off their benefits if they fail repeated drug tests. It also includes a provision that allows them to get their TANF benefits back in the future, once they start to test clean.

In arguing for the bill, Head noted a federal law, the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, that authorized, but didn’t require states to impose mandatory drug testing as a prerequisite to receiving federal welfare assistance administered by the states.

But few states have acted to do so until recently. Michigan was the first to do so, but the state’s mandatory drug testing program was struck down as unconstitutional in 2003 in a challenge brought by the ACLU. A federal appeals court ruled the mandatory drug tests violated welfare recipients’ Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches.

Since Florida adopted its drug-testing program in 2011, seven more states have passed similar laws tying drug screening to eligibility for public assistance.

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
State News
  • Study finds Indiana residents paying more in taxes

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A national study says Indiana residents have been paying a growing percentage of their income on state and local taxes.

    April 14, 2014

  • Judge: Indiana must recognize gay couple’s marriage

    EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that the state must recognize a gay couple’s out-of-state marriage before one of the women, who has cancer, dies.

    April 10, 2014

  • State school board members say teacher ratings unfair

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Some Indiana State Board of Education officials say teacher evaluation results that show only 2 percent of educators need improvement are unfair to students and parents.

    April 9, 2014

  • Bennett campaigning ethics hearing further delayed

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A hearing on charges that former Indiana state schools superintendent Tony Bennett used state resources in his failed 2012 re-election bid has been pushed back until August.

    April 7, 2014

  • Groups hope to revive outer beltway

    FRANKLIN, Ind. (AP) — A group of central Indiana manufacturers and warehousing companies is pushing to revive a proposal for a highway that would link the region’s major interstates and communities.

    April 7, 2014

  • Indiana seed commissioner seeks federal hemp OK

    WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Indiana’s seed commissioner has asked the federal government for permission to allow Hoosier farmers to begin growing industrial hemp under new state regulations.

    April 4, 2014

  • Company fined $50K in Indiana State Fair collapse

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The owner of parts of a stage that collapsed during a powerful storm at the Indiana State Fair in 2011, an accident that killed seven people, will pay a $50,000 fine for safety violations, the state said today.

    March 31, 2014

  • Indiana court to hear former regulator’s case

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Attorneys from the Indiana attorney general’s office will try to persuade the state appeals court to reinstate criminal misconduct charges against the state’s former top utility regulator.

    March 31, 2014

  • Ethics panel could meet soon on Indiana lawmaker

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana House Ethics Committee could meet soon to determine whether a top Republican lawmaker erred in lobbying for his family’s nursing home business.

    March 26, 2014

  • Indiana withdrawing from Common Core standards

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana today became the first state to withdraw from the Common Core math and reading standards that outline what students should be learning, capitalizing on a conservative backlash but leaving some critics wondering whether the state is leaving the program in name only.

    March 24, 2014

  • Court gives Duke Energy go-ahead for rate increase

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Court of Appeals has given Duke Energy the green light to raise electricity rates to pay for its $3.5 billion Edwardsport coal-gasification power plant.

    March 19, 2014

  • Indiana unemployment rate drops to 6.4 percent

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s unemployment rate has dropped to 6.4 percent, continuing its big decline over the past year.

    March 17, 2014

  • 2 new suits target Indiana’s gay marriage ban

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Two new federal lawsuits are taking aim at Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban, boosting to four the number of legal challenges to the law filed in a week.

    March 14, 2014

  • Pence signs military relief fund changes into law

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Mike Pence has signed into law a measure allowing more of Indiana’s veterans and their families access to a fund that helps them pay for food, housing and other expenses.

    March 13, 2014

  • New lawsuit challenges Indiana gay marriage ban

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriages faces a new challenge in a lawsuit filed by a national gay rights group.

    March 13, 2014

  • Nature trust expands Owen-Putnam State Forest

    POLAND, Ind. (AP) — State officials say funding from the Bicentennial Nature Trust has helped the Indiana Department of Natural Resources expand a central Indiana state forest by 84 acres.

    March 7, 2014

  • Indiana court says child welfare agency went too far

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Supreme Court says the state’s child welfare agency went too far when it took custody of a woman’s five children when she had trouble making ends meet during one child’s medical crisis.

    February 13, 2014

  • Indiana schools get options for making up snow days

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana schools won’t get a free pass for the mounting number of days lost to weather cancellations this winter.

    February 13, 2014

  • Consumers asked to weigh in on proposed water rate hike

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A state agency is inviting consumers to voice their opinions on a rate increase requested by the Indiana American Water Company.

    February 12, 2014

  • 37 flu-related deaths in Indiana

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — State health officials say at least seven more people have died in Indiana from flu-related illnesses as this year’s strains are hitting some young and middle-aged adults harder than usual.

    February 7, 2014

  • Schools could be allowed option on makeup days

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The state school superintendent says school districts could make up some snow days by having longer school days or having online instruction on a Saturday.

    February 7, 2014

  • State AG offers help to Hoosiers facing critical propane shortage

    INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced today, Feb. 5, that his office will assist consumers who face critically low propane levels and experience supplier issues - especially as temperatures continue to drop.

    February 5, 2014

  • Indiana plans $75M push to demolish abandoned homes

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana officials plan to use a $75 million federal grant to demolish thousands of blighted houses in the state.

    February 3, 2014

  • Pence asks Hoosiers to check for extra propane

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Mike Pence is asking farmers and others to return any unused propane to their suppliers as the state struggles through an ongoing shortage.

    January 29, 2014

  • Indiana sees number of flu deaths jump to 11

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — State health officials say the number of Indiana influenza deaths this season has jumped to 11, up from three reported a week ago.

    January 17, 2014

  • nws-gb011714 Land Zeppelin 2 (front page pic) Inventor hopes Bike Zeppelin takes off GREENSBURG - A local civil engineer has created a Zeppelin-shaped apparatus that allows bicyclists to ride in the rain without getting wet. Greensburg resident Jim Gorman remembers the day that inspiration struck: Nov. 22, 2011. It rained all day, an

    January 17, 2014 3 Photos

  • Text of Gov. Pence’s 2nd State of the State speech

    INDIANAPOLIS (Jan. 14) — Speaker Bosma, President Pro Tem Long, Lt. Governor Ellspermann, Senator Lanane, Representative Pelath, distinguished members of the General Assembly and Judiciary, honored guests, my fellow Hoosiers.
    Thank you for that warm welcome. After last week, warm is my favorite word! I want to thank all of you in this room and your families for your service to the people of Indiana in this historic place.

    January 15, 2014

  • Pence looks to sell lawmakers on 2014 agenda

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is heading into his second State of the State address with a broad agenda and friendly Republican majorities in the audience of lawmakers he’ll be addressing.

    January 14, 2014

  • Indiana senator retiring after cancer diagnosis

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A longtime Republican state senator will not seek re-election after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

    January 9, 2014

  • State health officials announce 3 influenza deaths

    INDIANAPOLIS — State health officials today reported the first influenza deaths of the 2013-14 flu season. Influenza is now widespread across Indiana, said State Health Commissioner William VanNess.

    January 3, 2014

Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Raw: Pro-Russian Militants Killed on Base Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Raw: Urinator Causes Portland to Flush Reservoir Captain of Sunken South Korean Ferry Apologizes Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Today in History for April 17th Raw: Blast at Tennessee Ammunition Plant Kills 1 Raw: Three Rare White Tiger Cubs Debut at Zoo Miley Cyrus Still in Hospital, Cancels 2nd Show Hoax Bomb Raises Anxiety in Boston Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Raw: Royal Couple Visits Australia Mountains Ex-California City Leader Gets 12 Year Sentence
NDN Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity