To the Editor:
State Senator Nienow is the sponsor of SF1535, a bill that would establish a taxpayer-funded drug testing program for applicants for Minnesota Family Investment Program and General Assistance. This bill is an example of misguided and wasteful use of taxpayer money.
Contrary of the stated intent of the Legislature to relieve local governments of unfunded mandates, this legislation imposes a new, unfunded bureaucratic mandate requiring drug testing.
I am a former county human services director and knowledgeable about this issue. My counterparts across Minnesota and I opposed this initiative in the past as bad legislation.
Drug testing can range in cost from $15-150 depending on the test. The most recent experience in Florida, a state that tests welfare clients had a mere 2 percent of the applicants that tested positive.
Further, Minnesota state law already allows counties to test persons with a prior drug conviction. This is a targeted approach that is cost-effective and likely constitutional. This bill, if enacted would likely be ruled unconstitutional as it would be an unreasonable search.
Ask Sen. Nienow to stop wasting time on bills that would create unfunded bureaucratic mandates on local governments, which are opposed by human service professionals responsible for these programs, and would likely be ruled, unconstitutional. Instead, Nienow should be working on creating jobs, helping school districts like North Branch, and balancing the budget.
Robert G. Walz