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Wednesday, March 26,2014

Take the test (w/video)

Progress Michigan delivers urine-sample cups to Senate offices, asks those who voted for suspicion-based drug-testing of welfare recipients if they would do the same

by Katy Barth
Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer holds a urine-sample cup. Katy Barth/City Pulse
Wednesday, March 26 — Progress Michigan delivered urine-sample cups to state senators today and asked if they would take a drug test. The cups were delivered to senators who voted for a proposed suspicion-based drug-testing program for certain recipients of state aid.

The advocacy group asks: “Why stop drug testing at poor people?”

Progress Michigan believes it’s only right to drug test all who receive state aid — including lawmakers, legislative staffers and corporate recipients of tax breaks.

“We came out to do this today because we think you shouldn’t just shame the poor,” said Hugh Madden, communications director at Progress Michigan. “So we challenged the senators that voted for the bill … to not stop there and to drug test anyone who receives a taxpayer subsidy, including people on corporate welfare.”

The group stopped by several offices, though most senators were unavailable to field questions.

However, Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer — who voted against the bill — agrees with Progress Michigan.

“It’s complete hypocrisy for people in this building to create more hurdles for families,” Whitmer said. When asked if she would support drug-testing of her colleagues, she said: “Absolutely. Any recipient of state aid should be required to. If we require it of the least among us, we should require it of everyone — and that includes all of the Fortune 500 companies who get tax breaks.”

The Senate approved legislation last week that appropriates $500,000 to the Michigan Department of Human Services to launch a pilot program in at least three counties that would test recipients of the Family Independence Program if they are suspected of using drugs, according to MLive.com. The House will now consider the legislation.

Staffers for Sens. Bruce Caswell and John Moolenaar made a guarantee their bosses were drug free.

“We’ll wait and see if they decide to prove it,” Madden said.'
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