And You Thought HJR 3 Was Dumb….

Am I the only resident of the Hoosier state who cannot comprehend the priorities and prejudices–let alone the analytical abilities–of Indiana lawmakers?

It’s bad enough that the most high-profile battle of this session–HJR 3–has given the rest of the country the impression that Hoosiers are 19th Century yahoos determined to buck the headwinds of change. What’s worse is that all the high-profile jockeying to keep GLBT folks in second-class citizenship status has sucked the wind out of everything else going on–obscuring all the other stupid decisions being made at the Statehouse.

One example: HB 1351 which requires the drug testing of TANF recipients. This measure, which will cost taxpayers nearly 1.5 million in fiscal 2016-17 alone — is moving steadily through the General Assembly, despite the fact that in states that have passed such laws , like Florida, courts have held it unconstitutional–and despite the fact that very few abusers were found. (If I had to guess, I’d bet the percentage of drug abusers in the General Assembly is substantially higher than the percentage on welfare. Drugs cost money, and TANF pays $288 per month for a family of three. You try living and buying drugs on that.)

As of March 2013, there were just 26,364 individual Hoosiers receiving TANF.  Of that number, 23,128 were children. So Indiana is proposing to spend a million and a half dollars to test three thousand adults for drug abuse.

Dumb or not, this costly measure of dubious constitutionality and demonstrated ineffectiveness is speeding merrily through the process.  Meanwhile, SB 413, a bill that  would encourage TANF families to accumulate the assets they need to transition off of public assistance [and save taxpayer money], is not expected to go anywhere–despite the fact that other states that have implemented that measure have saved money and helped poor people move toward self-sufficiency.

It’s hard to escape the suspicion that our legislators not only don’t want to help poor folks–they want to punish them for being poor. One reason there are so few adults receiving TANF is that we have already made the process so difficult and demeaning that only 2.9% of impoverished Hoosiers participate.

I guess GLBT folks aren’t the only people Indiana doesn’t want.


  1. The GOP, being primarily backed by the Tea Party, rich lobbyists and big business, has no concept of need. They do not have to choose between food and medication, or medication and paying the light or gas bill to keep from freezing, they do not know what it is like to drive on gas fumes to get to a minimum wage job – if they have a job – to earn the money to be able to make these decisions in order to survive on a day-to-day basis. They do not understand a broken toilet they cannot afford to repair, a leaking water pipe that damages walls and floors or a car that will not start in this weather or in good weather due to no money for repairs. We cannot possibly expect them to understand anything referred to in this blog; such as the waste of millions on drug testing that could go for medication, food, heat, power, clothing, bath soap, toilet paper, etc., to those in need because their income is guaranteed – primarily by voters who continue reelecting them to office to continue their lofty views of we who are so far below them on their humanity scale. They want to keep that $288 monthly TANF “give-away” to fund sports arenas and bring in more sports venues. Ballard’s futile efforts at pretending he wants to improve public transporation shows how out-of-touch he is with reality. I saw the film on Channel 8 news this morning and cannot imagine the millions of dollars needed to make this dream a reality while Indianapolis residents do not have a decent bus service and hasn’t had for years. School buses that transport thousands of our children to and from school daily are too often in need of repair – or seat belts to keep our children safe. These school buses are part of public transportation which is included in public education funding which the GOP also denies is necessary.

    As far as dropping the sentence against civil unions in the HJR 3 bill in their attempt to get it through the Legislature like you-know-what through a goose; they have lost sight of the fact that all religious marriage ceremonies also require legal registration of this coupling, in effect it is a civil union. The same divorce laws regulate religious and civil marriages. How simple it would be to allow organized religions to make their individual choices on this matter; thus, keeping church and state separate as promised in the Constitution. They seem to deliberately make every issue confusing, impossible to understand without a law degree, they add sections in bills that have little if anything to do with the basic issue of the bill – hoping it won’t be noticed or understood. Sheila informs us of many of these inconsistencies and denials of our civil and human rights through this blog. Thank you, Sheila.

  2. Reagan has been dead for years but his welfare queens live on, don’t they? That guy brain washed so many people. There will be no end to the plight of the poor as long as those Reagan followers are around. It’s just so sad.

  3. I was in Indianapolis last and was shocked to find the Coldest Things in Indiana was Republican Legeslative Hearts, I don’t believe their icy hearts represent the harm hearts of Hoosiers.

  4. I understand these drug testing bills are being pushed by drug testing companies who’s revenues are down because corporations are moving away from testing as it has proven ineffective.

  5. In Florida, their Governor Rick Scott founded a company (Solantic) which did drug testing.

    Their law was struck down in Federal Court, as it violates constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure. In the short time the law was in effect, the program was a net loss of about $45,000.

  6. On the subject of dumb vs dumber… one legislative gem that is not getting attention is the one that would disallow Indiana cities of gun buy-back programs. The wingnut who introduced this bill asked the question why should cities be allowed to destroy perfectly good weapons when in fact they could be sold. Ummmmm…

  7. So those of us who have jobs and are required to pass the piss test to earn the money have no say in who gets to spend the money we are suppling them. Government has no business in suppling food stamps, or any other of my earnings to those who did not earn it. Period.
    “Let the poor not be easy in their poverty” –Ben Franklin–

  8. I think someone is missing the other part of the bill…HB 1351 allows SNAP benefits to be used only for food and beverages that have sufficient nutritional value, as determined by the division of family resources.

  9. Michael, I interned last year at the Statehouse when this bill was first introduced. The majority of those receivng TANF are children. The other issue is the cost to tax payers on regulating the very few adults who are receiving this benefit. Cost-Benefit Analysis, it may actually cost the state more money to test and regulate individuals who are most likely not doing drugs. Not everyone receiving public assistance are druggies and low lifes. Many are single mothers with children who are in desperate need of food.

  10. Michael; you sound like an ex-brother-in-law of mine who was well known in politics locally who was against food stamps. His mother received food stamps and he believed she should be able to live on her Social Security check with no help – so HE didn’t give her any. When Ben Franklin was around and spouting “wisdoms” such as you repeated today; this was a different world, there was no public assistance but there were debtor’s prisons.

    RN; let’s not leave off that list the mothers of children whose ex-husbands and boyfriends refuse to pay court-ordered child support but…per the courts that is a separate issue and these women must pay to file a separate court order to AGAIN order them to pay child support. This is a vicious circle which takes weeks if not months to accomplish with many forced to lose their dignity by asking for public assistance to feed their children. And many of them do work in low-paying jobs. Michael seems to have lost sight of the fact that these working women have also paid taxes to provide public assistance to all who are in need.

  11. No one said Hoosier politicians were smart. I heard that you could count on one hand how many people were caught using drugs in other states that tested the poor before they could get assistance. In the big picture $1.5 million may not be a lot of money, but I’m sure we can find better things to do with that money than throwing it away. I wonder which politician will benefit if this is passed? Maybe we should look at that.

  12. JoAnn, I agree with you on your assessment, but for once in my life I held my tongue. I spoke to a few of my representatives last week and suggested if marriage between a woman and a man is the only salvation to our children than we need to ban divorce (except in situations of extreme abuse) and force men and women to get married when the woman becomes pregnant.

  13. Florida spent much more money on testing than they saved by denying benefits to a relative handful of drug users. Getting tough on the poor overtook fiscal sanity.

  14. Hi Dad! Just a couple of reminders – in 2008, just as the economy was tanking, I lost a good job through no fault of my own. It was also just at that time that my daughter was diagnosed with something that required many expensive medical tests. Thank goodness I was able to enroll in Medicaid and Food Stamps to keep her medically safe and fed during those tough 4 months. I make six figures now and am glad my taxpayer dollars support other single mothers who need a little extra help. In addition, there is another single, hard working woman in the family who had to suddenly leave a man who was discovered to be abusing her children. She had to leave her job and move in a moments notice. Through support of her family, and temporary welfare assistance, she got a great job and has a straight A college student in her house. That student works part time to pay for her school. Three bright, hardworking women who are valuable community members all needed temporary help. Oh, and none of us do drugs. You taught us the value of hard work, and I am very thankful for that. It has helped me be a successful person and a responsible parent. I am not sure where I learned tolerance and compassion.

  15. In the wake of Michael’s comments, it is important that we reflect on them. They certainly reflect the concern for one’s self, which is a common habit. On the other hand, it is not that Michael is too concerned about himself, but not as concerned as he needs to be. I think the ghost of Christmas Present is instructive. Regarding the children at his feet the ghost issues the following warning: “They are Man’s and they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance and this girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.” The society is only as good as our ability to work with the most vulnerable, and Ayn Rand is not the answer. If you know her history, she is the consequence.

Comments are closed.