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Hubbard County drug offenders could lose welfare benefits

PARK RAPIDS, Minn. -- Hubbard County Social Services will ask for permission Dec. 17 to implement a new state law that lets counties deny public assistance to people who use drugs.

Hubbard would join other counties, including Becker County, which recently implemented the law.

Hubbard County Social Services Director Daryl Bessler said each county got a list of potential offenders this fall from the court system.

In Hubbard County, only seven people fit the criteria. Becker County had 17.

The law took effect in November. It requires counties to send out notices to convicted felons that they must pass a drug test before their welfare benefits can continue. Those recipients can appeal before the policy takes effect, if approved by the county board.

If they pass the test, benefits resume for six months until the next test. If they fail, benefits can be reduced or cut off.

The issue has been debated by civil libertarians, who believe it’s an extra infringement of welfare recipients’ civil rights, and conservatives, who don’t believe public money should subsidize criminals who abuse drugs.

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