AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) -- GOP Gov. Paul LePage's administration says welfare recipients aren't showing up for drug tests and that reform is needed.
The state requires drug tests for welfare recipients with prior drug convictions who score high on a substance-use disorder screening tool.
The state Department of Health and Human Services told The Associated Press that since 2015 eleven Mainers have lost benefits after not completing required drug tests. Maine successfully drug-tested 12 welfare recipients, while four other individuals lost benefits after refusing screening.
LePage wants to ban welfare for individuals with felony drug convictions.
Democrats say denying access to basic needs will hurt kids and exacerbate the drug crisis.
The ACLU of Maine notes Maine last year made possession of drugs like heroin a misdemeanor.
DHHS spokesperson Samantha Edwards said in an e-mail that each drug test costs $62, but that does not include the costs of a no-show.
Maine can only screen and test convicted drug felons who are TANF recipients, not applicants, according to Edwards.
She said if DHHS determines that an adult TANF recipient is a convicted drug felon, they then administer a "substance abuse screening inventory" to determine if the individual has a probable substance use disorder. If the individual scores “high” on the test, then they are scheduled for an actual drug test.
About 8,500 Mainers receive monthly temporary assistance.
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