AUGUSTA — Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s administration has the green light to begin drug testing some welfare applicants.

A spokesman for Attorney General Janet Mills said Tuesday that her office has given final approval to the governor’s proposed rule and submitted it to the secretary of state’s office.

Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew told The Associated Press that the department will begin implementing the drug testing program but couldn’t immediately say when the first tests will be administered.

The rule requires that applicants for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program who have been convicted of drug-related felonies be tested for drugs. Applicants who fail the test can choose to enroll in a substance abuse program to avoid losing benefits.

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