Virginia Welfare Drug Test Bill Passes Committee

A bill that would subject some welfare recipients to drug testing passed the Republican-controlled House Health, Welfare & Institutions Committee on a 14-8 vote along party lines. Democrats protested to no avail.

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Introduced by Delegate Christopher Head (R-Roanoke), the bill, House Bill 221, would require local departments of social services to screen welfare applicants and recipients to determine whether probable cause exists to believe they are using illegal drugs. If probable cause is found, a formal substance abuse assessment, which could include drug testing, would be required. Persons who either refuse to take the drug test or fail it would be ineligible for welfare payments for one year, unless they underwent and complied with drug treatment.

"What are we trying to do here? asked Lionell Spruill Sr. (D-Chesapeake). "Now we're picking on people who are poor," he complained in remarks reported by the Richmond Times-Democrat.

Spruill asked whether others who receive largesse from the state, whether it is corporations with tax breaks or General Assembly members whose salaries are paid by taxpayers, should be tested as well.

"What about us?" he asked. "We make a big $17,600 a year -- why don't you test us?"

Supporters of the bill insisted their attention wasn't aimed at any particular group, but at keeping a close eye on the taxpayers' money.

"They're not being singled out," said Head. "As stewards of public money, we have a responsibility to make sure that that money's being spent right."

The Department of Planning and Budget has estimated that the bill would cost the state more than $1.5 million in the next fiscal year and about $1.2 million annually thereafter due to costs for staff, substance abuse screenings, assessments and drug testing. Welfare benefits would decrease by about $250,000 in the first year and about $500,000 thereafter.

Welfare or unemployment drug testing bills are on the agenda in other states as well. See our overview on the issue from last week here.

Richmond, VA
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Government Charity Failure

This is why we need to remove charity from the hands of government and put it back in the hands of the people where it justly belongs. Government is not the cure for any social ill. It's only proven success is at protecting the rights of the individual. Let's take our country back from the hucksters in DC and our state capitols who would have us believe that we can't solve problems on our own. The tools we need to solve our problems exist in us individually. Government has a place in our society but will always fail when misused. When will we relearn this?

My cub scout master used to tell us that fire was a great slave but a horrible master. I've grown to believe the same is true of government. All readers of these pages will agree it has failed to cure drug addiction when will they see that it is a general failure at all but it's core competency of protecting individual rights? Until we put it back in it's place we will continue to suffer the consequences.

This is from the History

This is from the History section of last weeks Stop The Drug War:
 
January 24, 1992: A Washington Post editorial comments, "... performance testing appears to be more effective than the standard urinalysis now used in the industry both after accidents and on a random basis." It also mentions that 97 percent of railroad accidents are caused by fatigue, illness, stress and other factors not associated with drug or alcohol use, and states, "On an annual basis, the test is less expensive than periodic urinalysis, and it's far less intrusive." 

 

So they already know that they are wasting money but do not care.  All drug testing should be used only on a cause basis.  In other words if someone is injured or killed in a work related accident then I suppose it would be okay.  But the employer would still be required to notify all employees up front that they would be subject to that.

What about required DEA drug testing on pain patients?

I understand the uproar over the waste of money, time & selective testing. What I don't understand is, where is the uproar over the money wasted EVERY year drug testing chronic pain patients? We are ALL drug tested with NO probable cause required. The money it costs the patient, Medicare (taxpayers) and the insurance companys is outrageous. I've been in CONSTANT pain every second of every day for 17 years. It took me 8 years to get in to a pain clinic. I follow all of the required "rules" & am still subjected to drug testing, having my pills counted and the general attitude of constant suspicion. Being treated like a criminal because I have a disease I did NOT ask for that the DEA does NOT understand is a breach of my civil rights. It is demeaning and without just cause.

Starving homeless people need to get high

When all hope is gone, people turn to drugs and alcohol for relief. That is part of the anatomy of human nature for better or for worse.

Now you want to tell somebody who has already reached the end of their rope that you won't help them eat or live at all. Its like kicking a dog when its down. This is not help. This is control. This is not charity. This is enslavement on top of enslavement. When you give from the heart, you ask for nothing in return. Welfare is charity. Must we also have no heart?

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