Outraged by Republican lawmakers’ plan to drug test the state’s welfare recipients, the Wisconsin National Organization for Women displayed its angst by marching to the state capitol in medical gloves and hospital scrubs and delivering a urine cup to the office of each Republican lawmaker.
The aim of the demonstration and dispensing of urine cups brings into focus the national disenchantment with the new measure, especially in Black urban communities. The perception is that African-Americans, in general, benefit from welfare more than others, which many believe makes lawmakers eager to pass measures like drug testing. Objectors to the plan consider it some sort of twisted punishment for needing assistance.
“First of all, it’s a violation to the right to privacy,” Wisconsin NOW President Dayna Long said. “Federal court of appeals has already ruled that it’s a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
“This isn’t about saving the state money or removing people from welfare. This is about vilifying people who are receiving public assistance,” Long added.
The idea of the program, according to Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott to Walker, who drafted the bill, was to serve as motivation for welfare benefactors to avoid drugs and seek employments.
“To ensure that we’re not spending all this time supporting them, getting them to move into the work force and then finding out they can’t get hired because they can’t pass a drug test,” he told a local television station.
Long did not embrace that notion.
“People don’t stay on public assistance because it’s fun or because it’s glamorous or because they rather have a free ride while they use drugs,” she insisted. “They’re on public assistance because they’re struggling.”
Walker has said that he would make welfare drug testing one of his top priorities for this term—something that makes Long cringe.