State Reps. Schaffer And Maag Announce Legislation To Fight Statewide Drug Epidemic
Pilot program will protect tax dollars, offer treatment to the addicted while allowing their children to continue receiving assistance
August 04, 2015
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State Representative Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) and State Representative Ron Maag (R-Lebanon) today announced legislation that works to combat the cycle of drug induced poverty.


The bill establishes a two year pilot program within the Ohio Works First (OWF) cash assistance program. Applicants will complete a screening along with their application. The screening is widely used in the mental health field to assess if a person is likely to have substance abuse issues.


If the screening shows a likelihood of dependency, the applicant will be asked to take a drug test. If the test is positive, the applicant will be offered cost free drug treatment and the applicant’s dependents and children will still be able to access the assistance funds through a protective payee.


“We need to continue the fight against the drug epidemic that is ravaging our state. It knows no race, creed, or socio-economic status,” Schaffer said. “This program will not be a means to deny benefits, but rather a means to identify those who need treatment. It will keep taxpayer dollars out of the hands of drug dealers, protect children, and get folks off of drugs and back on their feet.”


“The most important thing is that we get the drug addicted some help,” said Rep. Maag. “This change will identify those individuals so we can take care of them and their families.”


The two representatives pointed to a recent report studying how to reform the OWF program and reduce reliance on public assistance. The study showed that substance abuse and the inability to pass a drug test were the number one barriers to economic independence and reduction of reliance on public assistance for OWF participants. The report featured surveys of JFS directors, non-profits and OWF participants.


The legislation will be formally introduced Wednesday.

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