Georgia bill requires drug tests for welfare applicants

  • Follow Government

ATLANTA — Georgians would have to chose between illegal drugs and welfare under legislation filed Tuesday for early introduction to the next session of the General Assembly.

The bill, sponsored by a pair of freshmen lawmakers, would require applicants for welfare to take drug tests at their own expense. Critics, though, say that cost will be as big of a barrier as the test itself.

One of the authors, Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, said a similar law in Florida reduced welfare applications by 48 percent. That state saved $2 million in five months, even after reimbursing the roughly one-in-four applicants who passed the test.

Under Spencer’s measure, House Bill 668, Georgia taxpayers would reimburse the cost of a drug test, about $27, to applicants who pass. Those who fail would be barred from getting cash benefits from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program for one month. Flunking a second time results in a three-month ban, and three or more failure makes an applicant ineligible for a year.

“Georgia taxpayers have a vested interest in making sure their hard-earned tax dollars are not being used to subsidize drug addiction,” he said.

Social workers would direct failing applicants to state-approved drug-treatment programs. The government would not be on the hook for the cost of treatment, and Spencer suggested churches and charities pick up the tab.

Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, the author of the Senate version, which also includes applicants for Medicaid, said the aim is to turn around the lives of drug users.

“Our goal is to get these folks back into society healthy and not addicted to drugs any more so we can make them productive members of society,” he said.

Last month, a federal judge blocked Florida from using its law until a full trial. At issue is whether it violates the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure by requiring a test of applicants when there is no reason to suspect them of illegal activity.

Spencer said he was aware of that injunction and has worked with the author of the Florida law to avoid a challenge here. For example, the names of anyone tested positive for drug use in Georgia could not be shared with law enforcement officials, he said.

However, opponents say the bill could have unintended consequences.

Larry Pellegrini, the executive director of the advocacy group Georgia Rural Urban Summit, said applications will certainly drop off if the bill passes because the expense of the drug test will be prohibitive to candidates for welfare.

“You see how people avoid necessary health care because they don’t have the co-pay, so you see how close to the edge some people are. Just a couple of bucks is the difference between eating or not eating,” he said.

Having the testing requirement cover Medicaid, too, could make any hopes of taxpayer savings backfire, he said. People who miss preventive care or relatively low-cost treatments because they don’t have enough money to pay up front for the drug test are likely to stick the government with more costly treatments in emergency rooms where they can’t be turned away, he said.

Comments (17) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
mtxbass1
0
Points
mtxbass1 11/15/11 - 05:18 pm
0
0
This same exact thing was

This same exact thing was tried, and blocked, in Florida. It also should be noted that about 2% of recipients failed the tests and estimates show that Florida would save a grand total of $40,000-98,000 per year, while costing the state a predicted $178,000,000 in repaying people for drug testing.

http://www2.tbo.com/news/breaking-news/2011/aug/24/3/welfare-drug-testin...

boredinaug
97
Points
boredinaug 11/15/11 - 05:28 pm
0
0
Wonder how many of these

Wonder how many of these folks are actually illegal drug users...would rather see a program that limits cigarette, liquor, cell phones, and cable tv purchases...just my OPINION:)

specsta
6505
Points
specsta 11/15/11 - 06:53 pm
0
0
Another dumb idea from our

Another dumb idea from our politicians...

Vito45
-2
Points
Vito45 11/15/11 - 07:01 pm
0
0
mtxbass 1, the article says 1

mtxbass 1, the article says 1 in 4 passed the test, which means 75% failed. Somebody is wrong. (Frankly, I do not believe the 75%).

I think the person pointing to unintended consequences has a valid argument.

Pu239
284
Points
Pu239 11/15/11 - 07:14 pm
0
0
mtxbass1....nice manipulation
Unpublished

mtxbass1....nice manipulation of facts.....you must be a political candidate.....the $178M was the entire cost of the cash assistance program...sheesh

CorporalGripweed
0
Points
CorporalGripweed 11/15/11 - 07:21 pm
0
0
Cool! About time. If it

Cool! About time. If it blocks even ONE dopehead from getting welfare, fine with me. It's worth it to me as a taxpayer who has to pass a test to have the "privelige" of supporting someone on the dole. If you're a doper,and you want the power of the state to take money from me and give it to you, tough. Cold hearted? You bet. That's life.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 11/15/11 - 07:22 pm
0
0
If Mr. Pellegrini and the
Unpublished

If Mr. Pellegrini and the "Georgia Rural Urban Summit" are sincere, they should "front" the costs to all welfare and Medicaid recipients. Those that don't pass will re-imburse "GRUS", and those that do won't have to.

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 11/15/11 - 07:26 pm
0
0
I agree with the drug
Unpublished

I agree with the drug testing..if I have to pass one to stay employed so my tax dollars can be used to support someone else then they should also have to pass one to accept it...it should be a hand up not a handout.

bjphysics
36
Points
bjphysics 11/15/11 - 07:30 pm
0
0
More big spending and big

More big spending and big government by liberal politicians.

Vito45
-2
Points
Vito45 11/15/11 - 07:31 pm
0
0
Not cold hearted Corporal,

Not cold hearted Corporal, just impractical IMO. I don't disagree one whit with your sentiment, I just don't believe there is any return on investment going at it this way. If someone could give me solid statistics that there are actually that many users applying for assistance, I might change my mind.
That said, Georgia's plan makes them pay for their own screen and reimburses them if they are clean. If 90% come back clean, that is still very expensive. The article indicates only 25% do in Fla, which is a staggering number IMO. Hard to believe THAT many are doing drugs. If true, then maybe it IS worth it.

CorporalGripweed
0
Points
CorporalGripweed 11/15/11 - 07:49 pm
0
0
Impractical? Of course.

Impractical? Of course. Punitive? Precisely. But I'll be the first to admit my motivation is purely reflexive and not thought through entirely. I guess my main impetus is to send a message. That message being that if you want the "state" (me) to pay for your drug habit move to California. I've got enough of my own habits to pay for..

jackrussell
219
Points
jackrussell 11/15/11 - 09:39 pm
0
0
I work. I take random drug

I work. I take random drug tests. I pay taxes. Those getting aid should have to also. I am fed up paying a $50 doctor copay while watching someone on aid get the same thing for free. If they are not working or contributing, then they ARE most likely sitting on their bums smoking pot, listening to music, and perpetuating an endless cycle of welfare. There are those who have no incentive to get off aid, nor do they have the personal pride required to make it simply because it's the right thing to do. There are generations of people who teach their children at a young age how to work the system. Why are tax dollars going to clothe, feed and shelter those who are capable of working? And it really chaps my rump to see one spending 100s of dollars of EBT when there are gold teeth, fake nails, weave, and nicer clothes than I can afford. Don't even get me started on the high dollar cars parked outside their government assisted housing. I will take it even one step further. If a woman is receiving aid, she should be on mandatory birth control until she is fully capable of funding and raising a child on her own or with the father, not on my dime. If she misses that 3 month shot, no check!

david jennings
590
Points
david jennings 11/15/11 - 10:44 pm
0
0
I know of three locatiions

I know of three locatiions that the abuse of the system is so obvious it slaps you in the face. I'm talking about stores I have freqented for the past four years or more. In two of them I know the managers and some cashiers and they know the truth of the matter as they witness it first hand. I have seen purchases of large quantities of 8lb. packages of chicken wings (80 to100lb) that I suspect is of a commercial venture paid for with EBT. This is not drug use it is out and out abuse of the system. Drug testing might uncover some users but I know drug users are not the big problem. The big problem are those that know how to "Hustle". Small time club, store, fastfood hole in the wall hustlers that buy food stamps for 50% or less of face value from the disadvantaged in the form of Sunday alcohol sales, drugs or cash. Most of the posters here wouldn't last two days on the street.

allhans
23619
Points
allhans 11/15/11 - 11:25 pm
0
0
It's only fair. Do it. If

It's only fair. Do it.
If you have nothing to fear then there is no problem.

double_standard
166
Points
double_standard 11/16/11 - 12:18 am
0
0
Jack Russell you can stop

Jack Russell you can stop using that same old stereotype. We've heard it over and over again. I got a new one for you I tired of seeing the man collecting disablity check living in the brand new mobile home with the 2011 Ford F-150 crew cab new Carharrt Clothing, and working under the table on all the construction sites thats the real welfare king. boredinaug and david jennings hit the nail on the head but many of you don't wanna hear the real truth.

CABoatright
188
Points
CABoatright 11/16/11 - 08:10 am
0
0
Drug-testing should have been
Unpublished

Drug-testing should have been mandatory from day one...

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 11/16/11 - 09:10 am
0
0
Amen double standard.....I

Amen double standard.....I agree with drug testing but I also agree that the fraud with those getting assistance needs to be investigated also. The fact is that they would rather overlook it than pay enough people to investigate it. When people on disability can turn around and get a postal job and there is no one seeing that then my friends we have a problem. How can in this day and age of cyber everything can a person draw SSI dissablity then have a job paying into SS and no one have a way to track it?????? It boggles my mind but I saw it on the news where they had caught people but I think the way they caught them was because someone reported it. Fraud is breaking this country and it is allowed to happen, I guess it is simpler to turn a blind eye and let it continue.

Dudeness
1544
Points
Dudeness 11/16/11 - 10:22 am
0
0
I am not against testing

I am not against testing welfare users for drugs, but I think many of these problems with welfare will solve themselves if we require recipients to perform some type of work/community service for so many hours per week (perhaps 20 hours so as to allow the recipient time to look for more gainful employment). Workfare would provide a huge benefit to this city and country. The recipient would gain valuable work experience that can be added to their resume and we receive more public services for our taxes. Also, by keeping people busy who normally have too much time on their hands, I would expect the crime rate to decrease. Any citizen with too much time on their hands for too long a period of time can and likely will become a burden on our society.

mtxbass1
0
Points
mtxbass1 11/16/11 - 01:40 pm
0
0
Vito says, "the article says

Vito says, "the article says 1 in 4 passed the test, which means 75% failed. Somebody is wrong. (Frankly, I do not believe the 75%). "

The article says absolutely NOTHING about 1 in 4 passing the test. It says that 2% of the people tested positive for drugs. That's hardly a 75% failure rate. "Ninety-six percent proved to be drug free." Where you pulling your information from?

Pu239. The 178 million dollar cost was for the cash assistance program. This was the PROJECTED COST, just as I had stated. Nothing but the facts there. The cash assistance program has to reimburse people who pass the drug tests. It was projected to cost $178,000,000 over the year. Got it now?

drivenslow
0
Points
drivenslow 11/16/11 - 03:39 pm
0
0
2% of say 500,000 people
Unpublished

2% of say 500,000 people thats 10,000 less leeches you have to worry about...and yeah since when is liquor and cigarettes a life neccesity

drivenslow
0
Points
drivenslow 11/16/11 - 03:40 pm
0
0
and we all know when they
Unpublished

and we all know when they come in and buy hundreds of pounds of chicken somebody is selling 7 dollar bbq chicken plates somewhere on gordon highway

drivenslow
0
Points
drivenslow 11/16/11 - 03:43 pm
0
0
i can promise you this much
Unpublished

i can promise you this much if its work or starve to death you would see new businesses spring up everywhere and all these menial jobs americans think they are above wouldnt be so bad....

GuesS_wHU
3
Points
GuesS_wHU 11/16/11 - 04:15 pm
0
0
@mtxbass, Vito was

@mtxbass, Vito was referencing the actual news article here, not the one you linked. Just for your reference(from the Augusta Chronicle article),
"That state saved $2 million in five months, even after reimbursing the roughly one-in-four applicants who passed the test."

Did you actually read the article here?

KSL
129066
Points
KSL 11/16/11 - 04:51 pm
0
0
They need to randomly test

They need to randomly test any receiving public assistance, such as subsidized housing, and not just the grandmother who has the housing in her name, but the others who may stay there.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs