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Georgia Welfare Drug Testing Bill Signed Into Law

A Georgia bill, House Bill 861, requiring applicants for welfare to first pass a drug test is now law after Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signed it Monday. It will go into effect July 1, but faces a legal challenge as soon as it does.

Georgia follows Florida in passing legislation requiring mandatory, suspicionless drug testing of welfare applicants. The Florida law is on hold after a federal district judge questioned its constitutionality and issued a temporary restraining order while she ponders whether to make it permanent.

Backers of the Georgia law said it would be found constitutional, but it is essentially identical to the Florida law. Attorney Gerry Weber with the Southern Center for Human Rights told Georgia Public Broadcasting the federal courts have been clear on the issue of suspicionless drug tests.

"The Supreme Court said that there has to be a special need such as safety," he said. "Bus drivers, for example, can be subject to suspicionless drug testing because of the safety needs of children. But just because you think a particular category of people is using drugs more than others isn't a special need under the Constitution."

Weber also noted that the court in Florida found no evidence that welfare recipients used drugs at a higher rate than the population as a whole, but bill backers said that wasn't the point.

"It's not a case of whether we think someone on welfare would want to do drugs more than anyone else," said Senator John Albers (R-Roswell). "The whole point of the legislation is saying that if you're going to get a free entitlement or benefit from the government, you're going to have to play by the same rules as everyone else."

Weber and the Southern Human Rights Center are going to challenge the law. He said he would file suit once the state starts demanding the tests.

Georgia welfare officials estimate that some 19,000 applicants will be affected by the law in its first year of operation.

Atlanta, GA
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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flip - flop Governor

Gov. Deal started out on the right foot by claiming that incarceration was not the answer to drug possession offenders . He has allocated money for state-wide drug courts , based on the Chatham county [Savannah ]  model . His brother happens to be the judge of that court . He say`s that it will save the state money . Now this . I live in Georgia . I know what this is really about . Hopefully the courts will sink it in the Chattahoochee River .

These people need drug rehab.

It's pretty sad to see policies like this go into effect.  A lot of people assume that it's "common sense" to test recipients of taxpayer money for drugs, but I don't think they really understand the nature of drug abuse and addiction.  If an addict is receiving a welfare check, then being denied that check is only going to put them into a worse situation.  They'll be poorer, yet they'll still have the constant and insatiable urge to use drugs.  They need help - not punishment.  In fact, it would probably be more economically viable in the long run to pay for rehab, as well - instead of having them out on the streets looking for drugs.

Benefit drug tests

You may want to look into the nature of Social Security Benefits, you argue that it's not good to require drug tests for benefit recipients but are you aware that if these recipients receive Supplimental Security Income they are not liable to pay child support? I know those are different issues but that just shows you there needs to be serious adjustments to Social Security.

Do un to EVERYBODY receiving taxpayer dollars

  Does it not seem strange that the people who can afford to buy and do drugs are the same ones wanting to test the ones who barely get enough to survive?  If we are going to drug test the poor and needy, then we also need to be testing ALL  people receiving taxpayer money. It is discrimination against the poor and needy and shows no compassion for those with less.  AND if they really want to stop drug abuse then they need to come down on the doctors who are getting innocent people hooked on pain pills,giving them more and more, and then cutting them off when they have a problem. The biggest drug problem in this country now is pain pills and it goes right back to the source,  doctors receiving money and benefits from drug companies to over prescribe those harmful drugs.

Much needed law

Many jobs require drug test before you will get hired. Why shouldn't welfare recipient should not be tested? They will receive a money that the working people put in the "pool". If Florida has only 2% that tested positive then good for them. But there are other states that have a much higher rate of drug user and welfare abuser! I disagree with people implicating that we should just let it be since taking their benefits will just make them buy it of the street! Sorry, but I work at a rehab facility and see too many recipients that are not even try to hide that their $ goes to drugs & alcohol. There are many good programs out there but we are enabling the lazy and drug addicts by saying to just continue giving them the taxpayers money without any rules and consequences. I'd say mandatory drug & alcohol testing while applying for the 1st time and then a couple of times a year. There are labs out there that the government office can have a contract with for the testing and (at our facility) it cost them only $20 a person. If test fails, then do detox if needed with folliw up of IOP. That will be still cheaper to the taxpayers than sticking our head in the sand!!

Then test all government subsidized people.

Fair is fair. You Must test any farmers, politicians, police (the 2nd most prolific users of steroids and growth hormones), public and private school employees (yes even religious schools. Those tax evaders), church staff, corporate staff (especially Wall Street stock folk and bankers), all people who use deductions on their tax returns, privatized jail staff (all too many of those rogue folk in GA and the USA), Sheriffs and deputies, people recieving medicare and or medicaid, privatized probationers and publicly paid rehabilitation staff, energy company staff, athletes that play in subsidized arenas and the owners thereof, business people that take write offs for meals and entertainment and office parties and all the others I can't think of at the moment.

You supporters of this ridiculous and costly idea don't think beyond your own dislikes. I don't want to support cults of religions but we all must by some idiotic law that supports fantasy. My parents don't want to support public schools anymore, but they must. We subsidize every write off that anyone uses/abuses. And there are way too many abuses of tax deductions. Give your crap to charity and write it off your taxes for more than it's worth. Seen too much of that when volunteering in a thrift shop.

Legalize all drugs and let the weak die off, the strong live and the sensible do what they think is right. Stop your nanny state bull crap. Most of the people that support this idiocy are the same right wing nuts that are constantly believing what their self righteous leaders spew about too much government, as they go about creating more and more themselves along with the constituents that can't see past their own noses and lack of memory to realize that neither of the two main parties are much different. Spend and tax. And lock up folk for what they do and have done themselves. You are promoting more government and "Nanny statism" with your ignorance of people, drug abuse and responsible use (you too you imbibers of the drugs alcohol and caffeine), subsidies and government. Keep your lawns tidy and call Code Enforcement or your fascist subdivision kings and queens should anyone's lawn not live up to your ideals. What a country of non-freedom lovers this has become. Calgon, take me away.

Go after the beneficiaries of welfare that abuse it And their store partners in crime. It's not that hard. And it might keep some cops off steroids, being so busy doing stings at bodegas, convenience stores and WalMarts. We have become too passive to do the right things and instead cover everything with one big blanket that never works to keep our freedom. The words politicians regurgitate give comfort to those that don't closely follow news, such as many mainstream, humorous, independent and CSPAN channels. One minor child in Alpharetta accidentally shoots a female cop with his BB gun and they ban all BB and pellet guns and Roswell blindly follows. 

Wake up people and stop being led by only the things you care about in your small worlds.

The more people, the more bad, ignorant and stupid people we have. Those same people run our governments, police, neighborhood covenants, and everything else you and I can think of. Of course there are intelligent and moral people with common sense, but they don't out number the less than fortunate in the gray matter area much to our dismay and sometimes heartbreak. But they oft times are not the types that become or want to try politics or police work.

The best politicians and police I've known never stay in those jobs long, due to corruption. Words from their mouths repeated by my fingers on a keyboard.

I hope this makes somebody think from a different vantage point than they're used too, but I won't be surprised nor upset if not.

Have wonderful lives and think that all things can happen to you, your friends and family, before you rush to decisions and judgement. NO one is better than another. We all just think in different ways to possibly achieve similar goals.

thank you very much, this is

thank you very much, this is the information I need. I hope this website always gave the information quality.

hardest

It is time to stop criminalizing drug use and see it as what it is: an act of desperation like alcoholism. To refuse welfare based on how down and out a person is, with the hardest hit being denied welfare - is just downright fascism. mary

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