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Bill Requires Drug Test For Welfare

Updated: Thursday, April 11 2013, 08:07 PM EDT
Two controversial bills advancing at the state Capitol have advocates for the poor worried.  The first proposal by Republican state Senator Jim Davis would force those seeking welfare benefits like food stamps to pass a drug test.  "It's making an assumption that people in poverty are more likely to engage in illegal drug use," said opponent Anne Bamberger of Pisgah Legal Services.

The bill also forces recipients to pay for testing upfront, another problem for Bamberger, who's an advocate for the poor.  "These are people who are struggling to make ends meet already," she told News 13's Mario Boone.  Anyone who passes the test gets a refund.  But the cost doesn't go away.  It's swallowed by the taxpayer.

Reaction to the bill was mixed.  "I think they should," said Danny Green.  Mary Sloan of Asheville said she's against drug testing for welfare recipients.  And Vivian Abdul-Allah said, "I don't think it's fair and I don't think it's right."

Similar drug testing laws were passed in Florida where a federal judge struck down the requirement as unconstitutional.  And here in North Carolina opponents also expect legal challenges.  "It actually winds up costing more money than it saves," said Bamberger.

A second bill put forward by Republican state Rep. Dean Arp forces crimnal background checks to get welfare.  Eblen Charities director Bill Murdock said, "it will certainly impact their children, maybe their grandchildren.  It has a tremendous ripple effect."

The background check bill has already cleared the House.  The drug testing bill hasn't come to a vote yet.

By: Mario Boone, mlboone@wlos.com
Follow on Twitter: @mariobooneBill Requires Drug Test For Welfare


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