Gov. Nathan Deal signs bill requiring drug tests for welfare benefits

ATLANTA — Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has signed legislation that would require thousands of people applying for welfare to pass a drug test before they could receive benefits.


The Republican-controlled Legislature passed the law over the opposition of Democrats.

Backers say it will ensure that welfare benefits are used for their intended purpose and not to subsidize drug use and criminal activity. Democrats said the measure places an unfair burden on the poor.

Gerry Weber of the Southern Center for Human Rights said the organization is prepared to file a lawsuit over the issue, but not until it is put into practice. It takes effect July 1.

A similar law in Florida took effect last July but was blocked in October by a federal judge, who cited constitutional concerns.

At least two dozen states have proposed measures this year that would require drug tests for benefits.


Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed other legislation into law Monday that:

• Revokes bonuses for Georgia teachers who cheat on standardized tests. Under current policy, teachers and principals can receive bonuses or incentive pay based on the test scores of their students. Educators would have to give up that money under the new law, which takes effect July 1. The legislation stems from last year’s cheating scandal in Atlanta Public Schools.

• Targets scrap metal theft that would place more requirements on recyclers and addresses what supporters say is a growing problem in the state. Sen. Renee Unterman, who sponsored the bill, says the legislation is needed because such thefts have grown more severe in the down economy.



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