Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Turns To Trump For Help With Drug-Testing Food Stamp Recipients

By McCarton Ackerman 12/27/16

The Wisconsin governor penned a letter to the president-elect about helping with his drug-testing initiative.

Governor Scott Walker
Gov. Scott Walker

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is not letting go of his dream to drug test welfare and food stamp recipients, penning a letter to President-elect Donald Trump, asking him to give his state permission to test those who collect food stamps.

In the letter penned to Trump on Tuesday (Dec. 20), Walker reiterated his wish to require able-bodied adults who request food stamps to be drug tested, among other requests. Walker said that states can “effectively develop and deliver initiatives that align with your goal to make America great again.” The governor told the Associated Press that he was “very optimistic” Trump would respond quickly upon taking office next month.

Salon reported that Walker also released a statement clarifying his position regarding a state's right to have more control over its own laws. He wrote that, “Too often, states have become mere administrative provinces of an all-powerful federal government in Washington. Now is the time to reverse that trend. These requests are the first of many my administration will make as Wisconsin leads the effort to restore balance between state and federal government.”

Federal law prohibits mandatory drug tests for food stamp recipients. Nevertheless, Walker sued the federal government last year for the right to drug test food stamp recipients and those who receive unemployment benefits, if there was “reasonable suspicion” of drug use, but he was unable to gain any traction.

By then the USDA had already rejected the state of Georgia's attempts to do the same. In 2014, the USDA told the state: “Requiring SNAP applicants and recipients to pass a drug test in order to receive benefits would constitute an additional condition of eligibility, and therefore, is not allowable under law."

Regarding Wisconsin, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the Huffington Post last year, “Gov. Walker hasn’t read the law. It’s always a good idea before you start litigation to understand what the law is.”

But even if Walker were able to make this a reality, drug testing welfare and food stamp recipients has proven to be a waste of money and resources. In 2013, Missouri spent $493,000 on similar testing, but recorded just 20 positive results.

Arizona declared in 2009 that it would save $1.7 million annually by drug-testing welfare applicants, but had only saved $4,000 six years later. Florida came out on the biggest losing end with its program, actually recording a loss of $45,780 at the end of a four-month period from July to October 2012.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.