Wednesday morning, both houses of Wisconsin’s state legislature passed a comprehensive set of measures, the consequences of which are still coming into focus. Buried under controversial moves to curtail early voting are new welfare restrictions.
The bill puts into place a controversial policy that will force many food stamp applicants to be drug tested. Wisconsin will be the only state that requires drug testing for non-felon food stamp applicants.
The legislation defies federal policy regarding the food stamp program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture does not allow states to impose eligibility limits, like drug testing, without permission.
Emails leaked in April showed the USDA was considering allowing states to drug test applicants, but no such a policy exists yet.
Without federal permission, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s administration announced a workaround last December, using a rule requiring drug screenings for participants in the state’s Employment and Training Program. This move has essentially instituted drug testing for all unemployed food stamp recipients.