Governor Paul Lepage announced this week that the State of Maine is moving forward with a plan to require drug testing before some felons receive state benefits. The measure could also mean some currently collecting benefits could lose them.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services has been working for several months on designing its drug-testing measures. The aim is for the testing to be fair and accurate, while ensuring privacy.

What it comes down to is that convicted felons will be asked, when applying for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits, if they have a drug conviction. If the answer is yes, they will be required to schedule a drug test. DHHS will notify them 24 hours before the test is administered.

"Maine people expect their tax dollars to be spent supporting our  most vulnerable citizens - children, the elderly, and the disabled," Governor Paul Lepage said in a press release this week. "We must ensure that our tax dollars do not enable the continuation of a drug addition. If someone tests positive for drugs, they are clearly putting their addiction ahead of their family's needs. Being drug-free is a critical aspect of moving away from poverty and toward self-sufficiency."

If a person tests positive, they will have the option to be tested a second time. At any time, a person can avoid termination of benefits by enrolling in an approved and appropriate substance abuse program.

If a person fails to disclose that they are a convicted drug felon, they will be found in violation of program rules and will face immediate termination of benefits.  The state's rules will be published in August and must move through the rule-making process, which includes a public hearing.