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There’s More Going On Than Just “Right To Work”

Though “Right To Work” legislation has definitely been the hot button issue of this legislative session, there ARE other pieces of legislation floating around. There were three pieces that caught my eye and, I think, are particularly important pieces of legislation (or at least important enough I felt compelled to write about them).

The first has to do with drug testing welfare recipients in order for them to collect their dollars. The fact that this hasn’t already been law is shocking, and common sense will tell you that if a person has money for drugs, then they certainly don’t need taxpayer money. The bill has solid bipartisan support (15-5) through the Ways and Means Committee (it goes to a full House vote next) and would require the state’s Family and Social Services Agency to test out a drug-screening program on a small scale  before it was launched statewide. That sounds fair enough to me, too. Something like this will have sweeping effects, and should be tested on a sample group first. The effects, I think, will be obvious enough; there will be some people that will have to make a choice. Do they want to feed their children? Or do they want to do drugs? I think it’s a fair enough question when it comes out of my own pocket, and I think most people have little problem with helping those who are willing to help themselves.

Another law has to do with public intoxication laws. Senate Bill 97, which now goes to the full Senate, prohibits a public intoxication arrest unless a drunk person is endangering their life, the life of another person or breaching the peace. This combats a court ruling where a vehicle that is pulled over counted as a “public place”, and so a person who is drunk, getting a ride from a sober friend who gets pulled over for, oh, I don’t know…a seat belt violation, would end up in jail. This bill passed the Senate Committee 10-0, and is another “no brainer”.

The last bill is sponsored by our own Senator Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso. This bill passed committee by an 8-0 vote and ensures that a rapist is not allowed custody to the child that he fathered from that violent encounter. Leave it up to Illinois, again, to be our inspiration in what not to do. Sen. Charbonneau said he sponsored Senate Bill 190 after learning of a Chicago case in which the rapist sued his victim for custody of the child conceived as a result of the rape.

There are a lot of other bills that will effect us as Hoosiers, but these are just three that have caught my eye and, I think, will be very good for the state and the people living in it. Of course there are other bills, like the “no smoking in public/let’s take away the rights of private property and business owners” bill that looks to be inching closer and closer (and SHOULD NOT pass), and the “Right To Work” bill, which NEEDS to be amended so that those that opt out of the union don’t HAVE to be represented by the union that they don’t pay dues to (I’m all about choice and peoples rights to not be forced into anything, but we can’t say one person can’t be forced into something, and then force the other guy into something different), and so on, and so on. These are three bills that seem to be flying under the radar, though, and haven’t gotten talked about much. So here they are, what do YOU think?





  • Jan 25th 201218:01
    by Curt

    yeah, the whole drug testing thing is stupid and so not cost effective.

    First, Indiana family services administration has estimated that setting up such a program would cost over $1 million….before you save one penny in reduced welfare payments.

    Second, Florida did a pilot project where they found less than 2% failed the initial drug test. National studies show that standard drug testing produce between 5% and 10% false positives. So, with that high of a false positive rate, we will also have to have a system of appeals for test results, thus incurring more costs and bureaucracy. And this doesn’t even address the court cases that are going to ensue.

    Studies also show that standard drug testing also produces false negatives between 10% and 15%. So, when you add in the 5% to 10% false positives to the 10% to 15% false negatives, anywhere between 15% and 25% of the results will be WRONG.

    Then one should ask what type of drug test will be done. For current use or past use? So, if a mother with two children has gone through treatment and is not a current user are we going to reject her and let her children go hungry based on her PRIOR usage?

    And what about alcohol? Are we going to start testing for alcohol usage? Your logic that “if they can afford to buy drugs” should also apply to “if they can afford to buy booze”. But, we all know that your body metasiticizes alcohol so fast that one can simply abstain for a week and pass a test. So, we are going to penalize drug users but not alcohol users….hardly fair.

    And, lastly, there is the issue of morality. Addiction is an ILLNESS that requires medical and psychological treatment. So, if we test all of these people and get positive results are we willing to provide the very costly subsidies to our local mental health treatment centers to offer treatment? That’s like saying we are going to test you for cancer but if you test positive, tough shit. And what about the children of the person who tests positive? Because mommy smoked a joint a month ago, do you really want to let her children go hungry?

    Like I said, stupid and not cost effective.

  • Jan 25th 201218:01
    by Curt

    In 2009, Indiana spent approximately $108 million to provide basic assistance through TANF (temporary aid to needy families) to just under 100,000 families. These are the folks you would cut off aid to. Using the 2% positive test result in the Florida pilot project, it could be estimated that the state would save $2.16 million.

    Now, let’s look at the costs of the drug testing. Most drug tests cost between $25 to $30. Let’s use $25 per test to test 100,000 people comes to $2.5 million. And that doesn’t include the costs of all of the paperwork and bureaucracy.

    So, in the best case, the State will save….ummmm….NOTHING. IT WILL COST THE TAXPAYERS an additional $340,000.

    Yep, stupid and not cost effective.

  • Jan 25th 201218:01
    by Travis

    I disagree on a few points here, Curt. One, the two states will obviously have different demographics and will come up with different results. If the pilot program shows low results and that it isn’t worth doing, then all the better. But, there is also a matter of principle here regarding welfare recipients and drug use, and also a pattern that could help drug users get the help that they need. The false positives could be easily fixed by allowing for a redo, or even two of them, right there in the office if they fail. Now a days the tests results can show up very quickly, and so it would bring the numbers of people that would “fall into the crack” to almost zero. What type should be tested? All, as far as I’m concerned. If it is illegal, it should be tested. Drugs cost money, and taxpayers should not have to subsidize that habit. With the alcohol (and tobacco, for that matter) usage, I would love for there to be some kind of test, but there isn’t, so why bother posing “straw man” arguments, if there is nothing that can be done about it? With the issue of morality, isn’t it better to send them to get the help they need, and have the understanding that their checks would be deducted over time to pay for the costs? It works with other types of “pay it forward” means, why not this one? The children solution would be easy, as well. Which is worse, for a child to live in the home of a drug abuser and starve, posibly be neglected? Or be put under the states care? That is the real morality issue.

  • Jan 25th 201219:01
    by Travis

    Again: easy. What is thirty bucks per person out of a check when originally they would have gotten nothing? They can either pay up front or have it deducted from their first check. And, like I said, the 2% test is fine for mock arguments, but each state is different regionally, so it’s hardly a solid base number.

  • Mar 1st 201205:03
    by Mike Kubinec

    Hi Travis,

    Great post. Your analysis of current legislation is thorough and well thought out.

    Have you considered how Indiana’s decline in economic freedom has a broader effect than even the three issues you brought out? This is because economic freedom- the freedom of normal people to use their time and resources how they see fit as long as it doesn’t infringe on others’ rights to do the same- is a more basic reality. And if that’s taken away, then it affects all other aspects of society.

    At the Economic Freedom Project, we’ve produced a short two minute video showing how economic freedom IS declining all across America. We’d love to hear what you think!



  • Mar 3rd 201220:03
    by Travis

    Sorry for the delay, Mike, all first time posters have to be approved, and I’ve been working like a dog so I haven’t gotten on here in a while. Thanks for the comment!

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