Augusta – The ACLU of Maine will be in Augusta today to urge the Department of Health and Human Services to reject a proposal that would force some applicants for welfare benefits to undergo invasive drug tests.


“For someone who is on the path to rehabilitation, food to eat, a place to live and community support are crucial to continued success,” said Oamshri Amarasingham, ACLU of Maine policy counsel. “Punishing entire families when a parent is struggling is no way to combat drug addiction.”


Gov. LePage announced earlier this month that he is pushing forward with a plan to subject people with prior drug felony convictions to drug tests before they can receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits. In Maine, being caught with even one tablet of the painkillers oxycodone and hydrocodone can result in a felony conviction.


The Maine legislature rejected two similar proposals in 2013. LD 678 would have authorized random drug testing of TANF recipients and LD 1443 would have barred people with drug convictions from receiving TANF.


“The legislature has already rejected similar proposals, and with good reason,” said Amarasingham. “This proposal singles out poor people for different treatment than anyone else who benefits from taxpayer dollars, forcing them to submit to an extremely invasive procedure without any regard for their privacy and due process rights.”

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