By CARA LOMBARDO, Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Democratic lawmakers say a Republican proposal to subject more people in state-run work programs to drug screening sounds good but would be a waste of money.

The Assembly is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a bill from Rep. Cody Horlacher of Mukwonago that would add a handful of state-run work programs to the list of those that subject participants and applicants to drug screening. People who test positive for drugs would also have to get treatment to be eligible for benefits. Horlacher has said that the measure, which expands changes the legislature made last session to more programs, would help identify addicts who need treatment.

But state Democratic lawmakers up against record Republican majorities say that’s not how it works in practice. Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, of Kenosha, said the approach sounds good politically but costs more than it saves. Democratic Rep. Lisa Subeck, of Madison, called the idea a “cockamamie testing scheme.” She said less than 1 percent of applicants and participants screened in three programs that already require it — Transitional Jobs, Transform Milwaukee Jobs and Children First — have been referred to treatment.

Horlacher didn’t immediately respond to a message. He said at a hearing for the measure that it’s a “common-sense bill” that helps people remain eligible for work benefits and protects their children.
The measure is one of four GOP proposals up for a vote that would alter requirements for public benefits or programs.

The others would:

—Allow the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority to get federal approval for a pilot program that requires housing voucher recipients to satisfy certain work requirements.

—Require the children of parents who receive Wisconsin Works benefits to regularly attend school. Current law requires them to be enrolled in school.

—Allow people receiving child care subsidies through Wisconsin Shares to keep receiving a partial subsidy after exceeding 200 percent of the poverty line by covering more of the cost.
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