Health Care

More | | | Editor

Drug testing bill moves closer to passage

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 1:59 PM
Last updated 6:30 PM
  • Follow Government

ATLANTA -- A bill requiring food stamp and welfare recipients to submit to drug testing if suspected of illegal drug use has taken another step forward in the General Assembly.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee narrowly approved HB 772 on Monday.

With four Republicans in favor of the bill and four Democrats opposed, Committee Chairwoman Renee Unterman, R-Buford, broke the tie, siding with her GOP colleagues in moving the legislation out of committee toward a vote by the full Senate.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Greg Morris, R-Vidalia, passed the House last week.

Morris told the Senate committee the bill does not mandate drug testing for all food stamp and welfare recipients, but has a testing provision that is triggered when state employees who administer the programs have a “reasonable suspicion” of drug use. A positive test would require subsequent screening to get benefits.

Food stamps (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) and welfare (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) are administered by the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) within the Georgia Department of Human Services.

Numerous organizations oppose the bill, calling it discriminatory toward the poor and saying it could hinder families from getting help when they need it most. The opponents have also voiced concerns about making DFCS employees responsible for detecting suspected drug use.

Groups opposed included the Atlanta Community Food Bank, the Southern Center for Human Rights, Mental Health America of Georgia, the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse and Families First of Georgia.

Gerry Weber, senior counsel for the Southern Center for Human Rights, told lawmakers the bill is unconstitutional and will lead to expensive litigation.

Morris said his bill will prevent taxpayer dollars from subsidizing illegal drug use and will save money.

He acknowledged that he does not have specific evidence of any people on food stamps using illegal drugs. But he noted that one in five Georgians receives food stamps. Given the high incidence of drug use in society, Morris said, it’s reasonable to assume some food stamp recipients are on drugs.

Morris told his fellow legislators, “We have worked hard to craft a constitutional bill, but I’m sure it will be challenged.”

The Senate committee Monday also approved HB 899, a bill sponsored by Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta, which would toughen penalties on operators of unlicensed personal care homes.

Among resolutions approved was SR 756, sponsored by Sen. Joshua McKoon, R-Columbus, which would set up a study committee on medical marijuana.

Comments (30) 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.
Dseven
155
Points
Dseven 03/11/14 - 02:48 pm
10
1
Sad for the kids.

It stands to reason that with the prevelance of illegal drug use in our society that a percentage of welfare recepients also use drugs. That is, they can afford their dope, but they cannot afford to feed their children. My nieghbors (with an adorable young daughter) sit in their backyard each night and guzzle their beer, and smoke thier weed. The husband refuses to take any work whatsoever and is happy to talk at great length about all the handouts they get. I feel sorry for the little girl, mommy and daddy always seem to have enough for their beer, cigarettes, and weed but never enough for school supplies or school clothes for the little girl. This year my wife and I bought her school supplies, but it gets harder and harder to hold my tongue when it comes to her parents. Do I think recepients should be drug tested... I'd have to say yes.

itsanotherday1
40334
Points
itsanotherday1 03/11/14 - 03:10 pm
9
0
I don't favor blanket

I don't favor blanket testing, but selective testing of suspected users passes muster for me.

Also, if you are going to have public housing, make it secure with limited access. No card, no entry. It works for gated communities all over, it can work for public housing. Talk about a hit to dealers, users, and general troublemakers! Then have a policy that puts them in the street if drugs are found in the housing; and inspect what you expect.

Marinerman1
4316
Points
Marinerman1 03/11/14 - 03:35 pm
8
1
Should Have Been Done YEARS Ago

This should've been done YEARS ago. @Dseven - call DCFS. You should not have to support their daughter. You and your wife are Saints for doing it. Some people are just worthless, and unfortunately are fertile. @ the first hint of shenanigans, pee in the cup, please. @itsanotherday - I completely agree with you. I have said before that if the Augusta Housing Authority was worth a crap, they would pick a random Saturday morning, and randomly lock down each public housing facilty, and go through each and every unit. Police would be there. They should verify that every person in the unit, is on the lease. And they should bring in the drug dogs. We, the taxpayers pay for their place to live. Arrests should be made, and illegal persons should escorted out the door, and told never to return for fear of arrest. But we will never see it in our lifetime, because the AHA does not rule with an iron fist - rather a limp wrist @ best. Three words - Cherry Tree Crossing.

fedex227
10755
Points
fedex227 03/11/14 - 03:49 pm
5
7
These types of laws have already

been struck down in the federal courts. I just don't see the point. They're going to pass a bill they know is unconstitutional then spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money fighting it in the courts? That's not very smart.

itsanotherday1
40334
Points
itsanotherday1 03/11/14 - 03:56 pm
7
1
fedex, have they struck down

fedex, have they struck down laws structured this way? Only for suspected users? I really don't know, I'm asking you since you are familiar with it.

fedex227
10755
Points
fedex227 03/11/14 - 04:47 pm
4
2
I haven't seen the wording in this bill ...

but I remember the 11th circuit struck down Florida's attempt to require drug testing to receive public assistance. They said it's simply a 4th amendment violation. I guess they could do it if they get everyone to sign a waiver giving up their constitutional rights.

rmwhitley
5526
Points
rmwhitley 03/11/14 - 05:01 pm
0
0
It's obvious
Unpublished

that democrats are the biggest abusers of illegal drugs. They scream the loudest when asked to take a drug test, show id or be a productive member of society.

itsanotherday1
40334
Points
itsanotherday1 03/11/14 - 05:31 pm
9
1
As I said, I am not for

As I said, I am not for blanket testing, which I believe was Florida's law. For one, it is a waste of money since the bulk of recipients probably don't do drugs (in my opinion). I don't necessarily agree with the court since it is legal to make drug testing a condition of employment. To make it a condition of receiving public assistance wouldn't stray too far from that same principle, again, in my opinion.

All that said, my concern is with people taking charity and spending it on pleasures instead of necessities. After all, "public assistance" was never intended as a "living", just a safety net to keep people from starving or living in the street. If anyone on the public dole has enough money for drugs, alcohol,cigarettes, cellphones, internet, cablevision, hairdos, etc., etc.; they are collecting too much. We need to take every measure possible to discourage sloth and encourage work. There are too many people of every ethnicity that welfare provides enough money for them to exist at a level that doesn't motivate them to better themselves. I know it isn't 1900; but in those times if you didn't work you starved; and you darned sure didn't create more mouths to feed unless you needed their labor to survive.

Stunned 2
3124
Points
Stunned 2 03/11/14 - 07:14 pm
7
3
Most Employers require Drug testing of New Hires

Welfare is meant to be a temporary assistance measure. Most recipients are expected to be looking for work. Drug testing should be mandatory for all recipients of food stamps. It's only logical.

GiantsAllDay
9073
Points
GiantsAllDay 03/11/14 - 07:20 pm
7
0
The article mentions

The article mentions "Temporary Assistance for Needy Families". Temporary assistance? A misnomer if there ever was one.

debbiep38
389
Points
debbiep38 03/11/14 - 08:57 pm
0
0
A drug test?
Unpublished

It's only a THC test. Crack and Meth are gone in a day or two.

KSL
121973
Points
KSL 03/11/14 - 09:04 pm
4
3
You have got that right.

You have got that right.

Oedipus
83
Points
Oedipus 03/11/14 - 09:07 pm
5
0
I agree drug testing for

I agree drug testing for suspicious recipients, however, you got to be fair across the board and draft a bill for lawmakers to take drug testing too.We don't need no elected official making decision on drugs. I guess Republican lawmakers in Georgia will think about testing their own colleagues for drugs.

itsanotherday1
40334
Points
itsanotherday1 03/11/14 - 09:09 pm
4
1
Stunned

I have to disagree. Testing for all receiving benefits is a fool's errand that only costs the taxpayers more money. Perhaps on the front end as a qualifier, but not on any routine basis. Testing is expensive, and it would be a better investment to test those in suspicion.

As I mentioned earlier, I think tightening the screws on security in public housing would kill two birds with one stone (more bang for the taxpayer buck). It would reduce crime and better ensure those needing housing assistance are on the up and up. I can assure you that if Grandma knows she will be in the street for housing ne'er-do-wells, she will boot their sorry butts out to fend for themselves. That is as it should be. Grandma needs the help, sorry children and grandchildren don't.

specsta
6108
Points
specsta 03/11/14 - 10:06 pm
3
3
A Billion Laws

Legislators love to wrap their hatred of the poor, the downtrodden, the sick, the drug-addicted and the mentally ill in some statute that allegedly "prevents taxpayer dollars from going to waste".

For-profit prisons, drug testing for government assistance, denying expanded Medicaid, harsh drug sentences for street drugs but not prescription drug abuse, and social services cutbacks are the hallmarks of the clandestine and sinister plan to paint the poor and needy as leeches who drain society.

These politicians, at every level of government, are inhumane, greedy, selfish and egomaniacal. Their corruption is complete, as they worship at the feet of the almighty dollar and consider human dignity and compassion to be a flaw, a sign of weakness.

These politicians are master deceivers - they project a mirage that they care about "the people" - all the while proposing and enacting legislation that enslaves, binds and tortures the common man. Little by little, they erode our right to be left alone and free from government interference.

There are currently so many federal, state, and local laws that no human being can count them all. New crimes are created every legislative session, turning ordinary citizens into miscreants and felons just for existing and going through their daily lives. Citizens break laws every day and most don't even realize it. These laws restrict our enjoyment of life, and are destroying our children (such as kids arrested for playing cops-and-robbers, using their fingers as makeshift guns).

Legislators, the courts, the law enforcers and the entire judicial system has lost their flipping minds.

Cops create crimes by entrapping people who would have never committed a crime in the first place. Judges have been paid off to keep the prisons full. Corporations have bankrolled politicians to pass laws that favor their businesses.

And who suffers?

The citizens. The ones who mill about their lives, ignorant of what is happening until they themselves get caught up in some government-precipitated mess that reduces their quality of life and restricts their freedom.

When will people wake up?

KSL
121973
Points
KSL 03/11/14 - 10:50 pm
3
4
The real Oeidupus

Would never have made that grammatical mistake.

KSL
121973
Points
KSL 03/11/14 - 10:54 pm
3
4
Specsta, Do you have family

Specsta,

Do you have family members on the public dole?

KSL
121973
Points
KSL 03/11/14 - 10:55 pm
3
4
This does seem personal.

This does seem personal.

JRC2024
8060
Points
JRC2024 03/11/14 - 11:50 pm
6
1
Cops create crimes by

Cops create crimes by entrapping people who would have never committed a crime in the first place. That I do agree with and I think is is very wrong for them to do that. The rest I do not. Spectra, It is not the poor I do not like, I just do not like people that are lazy, beat the system and do nothing. I see them all the time and it makes me sick and non caring. Call me wrong but alot of people are feeling that way that WORK.

Bodhisattva
5629
Points
Bodhisattva 03/12/14 - 04:34 am
4
2
I think Florida was hitting

I think Florida was hitting around a 2% drug use level when they did the testing, making the testing more expensive than just providing the benefits to all that qualified. It was more of a plan for Gov. Rick Scott, who happens to own lots of drug testing clinics, to make a pile a money when he left office and was allowed to gain the contract.

freeradical
1048
Points
freeradical 03/12/14 - 05:45 am
2
0
Great Timing Ollie !

Gee , politicians propose this just as they are alternately

praising the tax revenue of legalized drugs in other states .

I wonder where this is going ?

Bizkit
29233
Points
Bizkit 03/12/14 - 09:43 am
1
0
The SCOTUS ruled you can't

The SCOTUS ruled you can't drug test federal employees because an invasion of their privacy. If they receive federal dollars wouldn't that sort a make them employees and illegal to drug test?

Bizkit
29233
Points
Bizkit 03/12/14 - 09:44 am
2
0
Like Pelosi, Obama, and Reid

Like Pelosi, Obama, and Reid haven't become uber-rich since in office and even legal insider trading. Obama's is well over 500% increase.

nocnoc
38632
Points
nocnoc 03/12/14 - 11:09 am
2
0
Some whine about the impact to the children????

Heck if the parents are druggies, everything they snort, inhale or shoot up is $$$$ and attention NOT going to the kids.

If a parent is arrested for DRUGS, doing a simple State Agency Background check or FLAG will show if the person is drawing handout $$$$$.

On conviction, (innocent until proven guilty) separate the kids from their druggie parents and give them a chance in foster homes.
ADFAC's should also be required to document the home before the trial and pull the kids for safety if needed.

The Courts should not lock up Addicts, the cost to Dry out the Parents and spot test them for a few years, as condition of getting ADFC / SNAP and etc. is far cheaper than imprisonment.

With a Open mind realize a Drug addict's home environment is not conducive of producing a good student or future citizen. It will just lead to another generation of criminals.

Pond Life
17105
Points
Pond Life 03/12/14 - 11:50 am
2
2
"I think Florida was hitting

"I think Florida was hitting around a 2% drug use level when they did the testing, making the testing more expensive than just providing the benefits to all that qualified. "

But you ignore the fact that enrollment dropped drastically when testing began, probably because those who knew they wouldn't pass, didn't enroll anymore. But you ignore this facts every time it is brought up. I know you know it by now, so why don't you include it in your statement? Intellectual dishonesty perhaps?

Bizkit
29233
Points
Bizkit 03/12/14 - 12:17 pm
1
0
I bet the Dept of Justice

I bet the Dept of Justice will call it discriminatory and use the very SCOTUS argument I made-Georgia receives federal dollars so blah, blah, blah. Just like his ridiculous legal arguments the he can unilaterally enforce any or part or even change laws passed by Congress.

Bizkit
29233
Points
Bizkit 03/12/14 - 12:40 pm
1
0
Ah I see the ACLU has blocked

Ah I see the ACLU has blocked it in every state so far hasn't it?

Bizkit
29233
Points
Bizkit 03/12/14 - 12:43 pm
1
0
Since the SCOTUS has ruled

Since the SCOTUS has ruled drug testing unconstitutional, why doesn't the ACLU challenge all private and state entities that demand drug testing. Gosh you have a right to privacy for an abortion but can't be given the same right with drug testing.

Bizkit
29233
Points
Bizkit 03/12/14 - 12:48 pm
1
1
With the move towards

With the move towards eugenics the CIA could poison all illicit drugs and bury the problem and deter it in one foul swoop-basically cleansing the gene pool of addicts and abusers. Using drones to kill American without due process is already the norm so this isn't that far fetched. "If you take these poisoned illegal drugs you are breaking the law so trial over your dead-convicted by your own actions". That progressive logic is frightening.

KSL
121973
Points
KSL 03/12/14 - 02:01 pm
2
1
SCOTUS has ruled drug testing

SCOTUS has ruled drug testing is illegal. But collection of emails and phone calls goes on. Something stinks.

And it starts at the top.

Back to Top

Top headlines

More details in McCormick attack

The McCormick County Sheriff's Office continues to investigate the reported attack on a bicyclist over the weekend, but has yet to find much evidence, a spokesman said Tuesday.
Search Augusta jobs