Georgia governor signs law to drug test some welfare recipients

ATLANTA Tue Apr 29, 2014 7:23pm EDT

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal speaks to the media at the State Capitol in Atlanta, Georgia, January 30, 2014. REUTERS/Tami Chappell

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal speaks to the media at the State Capitol in Atlanta, Georgia, January 30, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Tami Chappell

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ATLANTA (Reuters) - Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed legislation on Tuesday requiring some applicants for food stamps and welfare benefits to undergo a drug test.

Under the bill, testing could be required if authorities have a "reasonable suspicion" of drug use. A person failing the test would temporarily lose benefits, although their children could receive assistance through another adult.

Drug use is a barrier to finding and keeping a job, Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said.

"If some, however, reject treatment and instead choose a lifestyle that renders them unemployable, taxpayers shouldn't have to subsidize that," Robinson said.

Debbie Seagraves, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, called the legislation "shameful" and said it violated the constitutional protection against unreasonable searches.

She also argued that state employees are not adequately trained to detect signs of possible drug use.

"It's a badly flawed bill," she said. "It will be challenged."

Deal, a Republican, is up for re-election this year and will likely face State Senator Jason Carter, a Democrat and the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, in the November general election.

Jason Carter, who voted against the bill, declined through a spokesman to comment.

A federal judge late last year struck down a Florida bill requiring drug screening for welfare recipients, ruling it violated the constitutional prohibition of unreasonable searches.

Last summer, North Carolina Republican Governor Pat McCrory vetoed legislation that would have required some recipients of cash welfare benefits to undergo drug screenings, saying it had proven ineffective in other states.

(Editing by Kevin Gray)

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Comments (4)
Bakhtin wrote:
Another example of big-government Republicans.

If they have grounds to suspect somebody of using drugs, pass it to the police.

Apr 29, 2014 11:29pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
SunnyDaySam wrote:
ok, Only as long as they test Corporate Welfare recipients as well.

Apr 30, 2014 12:12pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
QuidProQuo wrote:
It should be applied to ALL recipients who need tax funded assistance. If they want to choose drugs over responsible example setting then why should they be given free reign to live that lifestyle on the backs of responsible people who hold down a job and raise their children with values and ethics? The idea that those who receive tax funded aid should have “rights” to use drugs and stay home all day doing nothing productive is why there are so many children that are falling behind in so many areas. Their parents are totally disengaged from their lives. Sure I understand that people fall on hard times and need help until they get back on their feet, but let’s face it, there are way too many people who don’t want to try, don’t want to get back on their feet, and don’t care at all about setting a good example for their younglings. So we as a society funding this give them the green light to choose risky behaviors with ZERO accountability. We should be fighting to protect children from this type of environment and instead the bleeding heart liberals feel that drug users rights are more important than the rights of the child to not have to witness these things. The children of these parents are already going to have a rough time ahead of them because of the disadvantaged lives they were born into, should be was a society make it harder on these kids by letting their parents receive tax funded aid while they shoot a needle in their arm or snort a line up their noses?

Apr 30, 2014 12:46pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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