Critics blast bill requiring drug tests of Ga. welfare applicants

Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 4:37 PM
Last updated Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012 3:32 AM
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ATLANTA — Representatives of social-service agencies and advocacy groups took turns Wednesday telling a Georgia House subcommittee why they oppose legislation that would require welfare applicants to be tested for illegal drugs.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, said he was open to some of their recommendations but refused to withdraw it. He said his experience as a physician’s assistant where he often treats welfare patients who use drugs convinced him it was necessary to safeguard taxpayers and steer the users toward treatment.

“I can tell you: I’m in the trenches, and I see this,” he said. “It’s time for the taxpayers of Georgia to be protected.”

Six lobbyists also testified before the subcommittee of the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee chaired by Rep. Roger Lane, R-Darien.

“Anything that gets in the way of people getting benefits adds to the stigma of mental health,” said Ellyn Jager, of Mental Health America’s Georgia chapter.

Neil Kaltenecker, the executive director of the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse, agreed.

“If I thought that was working, I’d stand up on this table and tell you to support this bill,” she said.

Nearly half a million Georgians need treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, and half of all addicts also suffer from mental illness, she said.

“Use doesn’t mean addiction, necessarily,” she said.

Others warned that denying benefit payments will increase the demands of the state’s charities to take care of the families. There are about 4,300 adults getting Temporary Assistance to Needy Families with a payment of $250 per month for about four months.

In Florida, a similar law resulted in a 19 percent drop in applications for TANF, and a similar drop here could save taxpayers $1,125 each, according to Tarren Bragdon, the president and chief executive officer of the Foundation for Government Accountability and a former Florida legislator. However, an Orlando judge ordered enforcement of the law halted temporarily until questions are answered in court over whether the tests are an unconstitutional invasion of applicants’ privacy.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 1990 Georgia law that had required all teachers, state employees and political candidates to take drug tests because it was an invasion of privacy.

The subcommittee only heard testimony but didn’t vote. Lane said he would wait until Spencer came back with changes he wanted to incorporate from the advocates’ testimony.

Under Spencer’s measure, House Bill 668, all applicants for welfare or unemployment benefits would have to pay for their own drug tests before receiving a government check. Georgia taxpayers would reimburse the roughly $27 cost of a drug test 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 would result in a three-month ban, and three or more failures would make an applicant ineligible for a year.

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dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 02/15/12 - 06:14 pm
0
0
One month suspension? Wotta

One month suspension? Wotta joke! If I come up positive on a drug test, I'm gone, period. Convicted. Cashiered. Don't let the door hit-cha where the good Lord split-cha!

This is about as toothless as our so-called justice system. Perhaps we need to make sure the druggies get a candy bar and limo ride home like the courts do for urban predators.

copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 02/15/12 - 06:20 pm
0
0
Folks must PASS a drug test

Folks must PASS a drug test to work but not to live off the taxpayer. What a crock! No wonder so many take advantage of us!

Pu239
284
Points
Pu239 02/15/12 - 07:16 pm
0
0
Did ya see the list of
Unpublished

Did ya see the list of opponents...LOBBYISTS! Aye Carumba....

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 02/15/12 - 07:18 pm
0
0
Does anyone have a guess as
Unpublished

Does anyone have a guess as to who pays these "advocates"? Do ya reckon their personal finances ( paycheck) comes from "lobbying for the downtrodden a.k.a. drug abusers and users"?

KSL
129066
Points
KSL 02/15/12 - 07:21 pm
0
0
People have to pass drug

People have to pass drug tests to work (and pay taxes). Why not have to pass a drug test to receive the fruits of the labors of those working? What's the beef with the drug test.

I agree with dstewartsr.

david jennings
590
Points
david jennings 02/15/12 - 07:31 pm
0
0
I'm pulling for the working

I'm pulling for the working class. They must prove accountability, are responsible for their self and their family, law abiding citizens carrying an increasingly heavy load. If you have fell on hard times and need help, I don't see it as asking too much to prove you appreciate the concerns the ones doing the paying have about not wanting their good intentions abused by those who don't feel the need to be responsible.

Riverman1
83643
Points
Riverman1 02/15/12 - 07:54 pm
0
0
I'm in favor of this with one

I'm in favor of this with one exception. Those on unemployment are not on welfare. Those are entirely different things in my mind. We pay our unemployment tax along with our employers. Plus, isn't the amount these people get deducted when they start to draw social security? There are lots of young people who get laid off and so on from jobs for a few weeks and have to depend on the unemployment compensation.

KSL
129066
Points
KSL 02/15/12 - 08:14 pm
0
0
I used to do the taxes for my

I used to do the taxes for my employer. Employees don't pay one cent directly to unemployment taxes. Of course they do indirectly in the the employers has to figure it in his total compensation package, just like his share of FICA for the employee and the health insurance and various other benefits.

GaStang22
910
Points
GaStang22 02/15/12 - 08:19 pm
0
0
The best reason why not is
Unpublished

The best reason why not is because it is a waste of money. Good idea, but a waste of money as it will not catch very many. It will cost us an extra 27 bux a person for each person on drugs who is smart enough to pass the test......and thats most of them. Especially when you are on notice you have a test....very easy to clean up for it.

If they want to save taxpayers money, start doing pop inspections on section 8 (which all of them also get ebt and other assistance) and you will catch them with drugs, people living there who shouldnt some they are charging rent, their children not living there, etc..... Way to easy to get around a drug test unless you intend to show up at their home unannounced with a cup in hand!!!!

Bizkit
31267
Points
Bizkit 02/15/12 - 09:29 pm
0
0
You're an idiot if you

You're an idiot if you believe you can pass a drug test nowadays. They all watch the internet and know every trick in the book. Other than staying clean long enough to pass a test (depends on drug) and using someone elses urine. A hair or saliva test will nail you too. The most benign marijuana is also lipid soluble so it stays in your system longer-so most get caught with this. You can abuse cocaine and clean up in a day. It is ridiculous but they should have random drug screen like any working citizen has to endure. I say outlaw all of em because it is discriminatory. The poor and middle class will always get caught and rich will either cheat, trick, or pay off the system.

realitycheck09
307
Points
realitycheck09 02/15/12 - 10:18 pm
0
0
The problem with this program

The problem with this program is simple: the cost of implementation FAR exceeds the money saved by denying benefits to those who fail tests. I'm all for this in principle, but if we're trying to save money, this isn't the way.

KSL
129066
Points
KSL 02/15/12 - 10:32 pm
0
0
What is the way?

What is the way?

fatboyhog
1940
Points
fatboyhog 02/15/12 - 11:44 pm
0
0
How about let's start with a

How about let's start with a lifetime maximum benefit. "X" amount of dollars or "X" amount of years. Hit the max, and we are done bailing you out, forever.

KSL
129066
Points
KSL 02/15/12 - 11:53 pm
0
0
Since when does anyone

Since when does anyone deserve an "X" amount of anything? How the heck many people came to this country without any guarantees and made it?

fatboyhog
1940
Points
fatboyhog 02/16/12 - 12:14 am
0
0
KSL, I agree. But since

KSL, I agree. But since generations of Americans have gotten used to this lifestyle, to stop it cold turkey would result in mass chaos. The system needs to be changed. I have no problem helping someone who truly needs help, but to reward bad and irresponsible behavior is crazy. Maybe if people realized that Uncle Sam wasn't going to bail them out for a lifetime of stupid and irresponsible mistakes, they would stop making them.

KSL
129066
Points
KSL 02/16/12 - 12:22 am
0
0
I think they are well aware

I think they are well aware that they could be weened off (stopped) and that is why they vote the way they do. Cold turkey might just do them some good and get the oriented right. I've been a social worker and it's totally amazing how much family support that would come forth if they were cut off. The families just don't take care because the government will.

allhans
23619
Points
allhans 02/16/12 - 04:02 am
0
0
I don't see this as having

I don't see this as having anything to do with "saving" money, but the principle of stopping those from drawing funds they are not entitled to.
And no, a deadbeat is NOT entitled to enjoy the fruits of another person's labor.

allhans
23619
Points
allhans 02/16/12 - 04:54 am
0
0
Place it on the ballot. Let

Place it on the ballot. Let the people vote. If that fails,
come at it from another angle. Like check out the local offices that sign them up without questioning or verifying the information they are given.
Maybe send someone like Breitbart in undercover.

fatboyhog
1940
Points
fatboyhog 02/16/12 - 07:55 am
0
0
If they have money to get

If they have money to get high or drunk, they don't need welfare.

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 02/16/12 - 09:25 am
0
0
Even if it cost more, I would

Even if it cost more, I would rather see my taxpayer money paying for the drug test than paying for a free handout to people who don't deserve it. I don't know the solution but this mentality that people have who think they are entitled to a life time of free benefits has to stop, so perhaps this is one small step to begin that process.

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 02/16/12 - 09:30 am
0
0
I don't buy into all the

I don't buy into all the mental illness crap either, don't expect me to take care of you because you decided to burn your brain cells up with drugs. Also the medical profession is so quick to label people with mental problems just like all of our children that are in school drugged up...and I doubt they have ADD and ADHD and whatever else they label them with, just dope them up so the teachers don't have to deal with them. Back in my day a belt to the butt took care of problem behavior, we did not need drugs to control the children. It's all about excuses, excuses......

shrimp for breakfast
5450
Points
shrimp for breakfast 02/16/12 - 09:38 am
0
0
Personally I don't see

Personally I don't see anything wrong with a drug test. I likew what Spencer saiid,

"Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, said he was open to some of their recommendations but refused to withdraw it. He said his experience as a physician’s assistant where he often treats welfare patients who use drugs convinced him it was necessary to safeguard taxpayers and steer the users toward treatment."

On the other hand if you can pass a drug test then you should have nothing to worry about. If you know you would fail then I guess I'd hate this bill too!

Itsallnew11
547
Points
Itsallnew11 02/16/12 - 09:57 am
0
0
As an employee I am mandated

As an employee I am mandated to submit to random drug testing to recieve my benefits; paycheck, sick leave, vacation time....a JOB so as a ward of the state, yes that is what they are if their sole source of income is the state, then they should have to submit to an initial mandtory drug test and subsequent random drug testing. Working citizens do it so should non-working citizens. I am in favor of this bill. If one day I need the services from the state I will gladly submit to drug testing. We already support them we shouldn't be supporting their "habits" too.

allhans
23619
Points
allhans 02/16/12 - 10:01 am
0
0
Bantana..That is not a bad

Bantana..That is not a bad idea. I had lab work done last week that could be used...No problem from this person. I am willing and ready to be tested. Let me know when.

OJP
6633
Points
OJP 02/16/12 - 10:31 am
0
0
For everyone equating this to

For everyone equating this to private employers requiring it of their employees, please read the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

If we are going to drug test people who live off the government dollar, guess what? That's everyone. So quit attacking the poor and being disingenuous; draft a bill that drugs tests all citizens once a month.

I challenge anyone to come forward who claims they do not take taxpayer dollars. For starters, anyone who claims the mortgage interest deduction on their taxes; receives or received the HOPE (or any equivalent); or took out a student loan is automatically included in the "must submit to the monthly drug test" category.

JRC2024
8847
Points
JRC2024 02/16/12 - 10:39 am
0
0
Test me anytime you want. I

Test me anytime you want. I have never and never will use drugs. Why not just cut every check that is given out $27.00 and that would take care of the tests or forgo any increase in the checks forever. Never thought there should be a cost of living increase in welfare checks anyway except maybe for the very old and disabled that cannot work. A person that uses drugs is the only one that would be scared they would not pass.

OJP
6633
Points
OJP 02/16/12 - 10:44 am
0
0
@JRC2024: Personally, I

@JRC2024: Personally, I prefer less government intrusion whenever possible. Unless it has a reason to drug test someone and spend money, it has no business doing so.

How much authority are you willing to give the government? Will you let them search your house once a month along with your body?

twolane
191
Points
twolane 02/16/12 - 10:47 am
0
0
here are the facts 75% of
Unpublished

here are the facts 75% of drug users are full time employees......already in florida this has been a flop most of welfare recipients PASSED....and the state is shelling out thousands to compensate the welfare folks that took the test...just give it a rest

twolane
191
Points
twolane 02/16/12 - 10:52 am
0
0
you folks are all for this
Unpublished

you folks are all for this but go crazy over the TSA bahahahah too funny...sounds like jealousy cause you are not smart enough to milk the system

bjphysics
36
Points
bjphysics 02/16/12 - 10:52 am
0
0
Just repeal the 4th

Just repeal the 4th Amendment, we’re not using it anyway.

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