Drug tests proposed for welfare recipients

5:33 PM, Nov 4, 2011   |    comments
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(AP File)


ATLANTA - It's been tried in a handful of other states with varying success, but now two Republican lawmakers under Georgia's Gold Dome want some who're on welfare to pass a drug test.

State Senator John Albers (R-Roswell) and State Representative Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine) both announced legislation on Thursday that would require at least some welfare recipients to pass a drug test or lose benefits.

They would have to pay for the drug test themselves and be reimbursed only if they pass.


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The proposed law would only apply to those in the federal TANF program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

That could affect about 50,000 Georgians who qualify for cash assistance for up to five years.

It does not apply to those getting food stamps or other forms of government assistance, but Sen. Albers told 11 Alive News on Friday he might try to include them as well one day.

Albers said the drug tests are for their own good.

"Studies have shown that many of those who're using drugs stay on those services longer than intended," he said.

"Our goal is to get these folks clean and back into society while it's also most important that we are the best stewards of the taxpayer's dollars," he added.

As expected some Democrats don't like the idea.

Senator Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) calls it a violation of privacy that unfairly singles out the poor.

"I would very seriously consider supporting this testing if, in fact, the state required testing of the corporate executives whose companies receive tens of millions of dollars in tax subsidies, corporate welfare," Fort told 11 Alive News.

Sen. Albers said he already has the support of Georgia's Governor, Lt. Governor , Attorney General and Senate leadership...all Republicans.

Since they're in the minority, Democratic state lawmakers will have trouble keeping a welfare drug test from becoming law during the upcoming General Assembly session.

But they predict a court challenge.

A similar Michigan law was thrown out as unconstitutional in 2003 and last week a federal judge put Florida's version on hold for now.

Missouri passed one last summer, but theirs hasn't been challenged yet.


(Atlanta Business Chronicle)

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