Before Indiana lawmakers continue pushing a bill to require welfare recipients to take drug tests, they need to look to Florida.
A federal judge ordered that state not to enforce a similar drug-test law, and in January, a federal appeals court upheld that ban. The courts ruled that the state showed no compelling need to examine the urine of people who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits.
Floridas experience is telling. Only 2 percent of the people tested before the court injunction showed a positive result for illegal drugs, lower than the general population. And the testing costs taxpayers more than they save by cutting drug users off from welfare.
The drug-testing proposals come across as attacks on welfare recipients reminiscent of Ronald Reagans description of welfare queens. Floridas history shows the implication that welfare recipients are prone to use drugs simply isnt true.
The bill has already passed the House. When the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee takes up the bill this week, members should reject it.
Another Senate committee will consider a common-sense proposal spurred by two nonsensical experiences in Allen County.
The bill, written by Rep. Matt Lehman, would reduce from four years to two years the length of time public school districts must keep a building vacant in case a charter school wants it. More importantly, school districts can seek a waiver from the Department of Education if they have a willing buyer and no charter school has come forward.
The current law temporarily blocked the sale of two Allen County buildings.
Fort Wayne Community Schools planned to sell Pleasant Center Elementary School to the Airport Authority, and East Allen County Schools planned to sell the vacant Monroeville school building to the Fort Wayne-South Bend Roman Catholic Diocese for a Catholic school. Allen County Superior Court Judge Nancy Boyer ruled both sales were legal because they followed other portions of existing law regarding the sale of public buildings.
But Boyers ruling does not set a statewide precedent because it wasnt challenged in the court of appeals.
The Senate Education Committee should pass the bill to the full Senate this week.
In 2012, Mayor Tom Henry set aside $60,000 so that City Controller Pat Roller could convene a group of local government finance experts to conduct a comprehensive study of city government finances in the era of property tax caps.
It was money well spent, said Councilman John Crawford, R-at large, who served on the financial policy committee. Otherwise, how would we be able to make these difficult decisions. Its like playing three-dimensional chess. Every time you move one piece, it affects many other issues.
On Tuesday, Roller is going to give the first in a series of presentations to City Council explaining the committees findings.
Crawford said Roller is not going to give the committees recommendations but instead offer a primer on what the group learned through its months of research.
The goal is to come to a well-informed decision about what combination of raising taxes and cutting services the city needs to adopt to ensure the citys budget remains balanced.
With each passing year comes a greater chance that the city will raise the local income tax, which now stands at 1 percent.
March is always a special month for Hoosiers, and not just because winter goes out like a lamb.
Its time for some Madness.
The Big 10 womens basketball tournament was last week, and the mens basketball tourney begins Thursday at Chicagos United Center.
The mens NCAA tourney starts March 19, and the womens teams begin March 23.