MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel filed a lawsuit Tuesday asking a federal judge to declare that state budget provisions requiring food stamp recipients to undergo drug testing are legal.
The budget Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed on Sunday contains language requiring food stamp recipients to undergo drug screening. If they fail the screen they must go through drug testing and treatment to remain eligible for the benefit.
The lawsuit alleges that federal food stamp officials warned the state in May that federal law bars the state from implementing any drug testing for food stamp recipients. The law prohibits a state agency from imposing eligibility standards for food stamps that aren’t consistent with standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture secretary.
Schimel argues that the state can force recipients to undergo testing because another section of federal law states the federal government can’t prohibit states from testing welfare recipients for controlled substances.
Schimel goes on to warn that the federal government could suspend or cut off funds for food stamps if the state doesn’t comply, saying the state could suffer financial consequences due to the government’s incorrect implementation of food stamp requirements.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture didn’t immediately respond to an email. Sherrie Tussler, executive director of the Milwaukee-based Hunger Task Force, which works to prevent hunger and malnutrition, also didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.