Tennessee Governor Signs Welfare Drug Testing Bill

Tennessee has become the latest state to jump on the drug testing for public benefits bandwagon. Last Thursday, Gov. Bill Haslam (R) signed into law House Bill 2725, which requires applicants for welfare to submit to a drug test if, during preliminary screening, state workers suspect he or she is using drugs.

Under the new law, persons who do not submit to drug testing lose their benefits. Those who test positive lose their benefits for one year, or for six months if they undergo drug treatment and test negative at least twice and 30 days apart. Those who test positive after being readmitted to the program face a loss of benefits for three years, or less if they undergo treatment and test negative at least twice and 30 days apart.

In the past two years, two states, Florida and Georgia, have passed laws requiring mandatory, suspicionless drug testing of welfare applicants. The Florida law has been blocked by a federal judge's temporary order as she considers whether to declare it an unconstitutional violation of the Fourth Amendments proscription against warrantless searches. Civil liberties and civil rights advocates in Georgia have vowed similar action against the law there when it goes into effect July 1. An earlier Michigan attempt to impose suspicionless drug testing of welfare recipients was found unconstitutional by a divided federal appeals court it 2003. That ruling was not appealed.

Several other states have passed public benefits drug testing laws with a screening process to create "reasonable suspicion" that a given individual might be a drug user. Those include Arizona and Missouri last year and Utah and now Tennessee this year. None of those laws have faced legal challenges, but in their fiscal impact statement, legislative analysts estimated the state would spend $100,000 to defend the law in court.

Haslam didn't issue a signing statement, but he told the Associated Press he's comfortable with the legislation because the Department of Human Services will develop rules for testing and the attorney general will ensure the law is constitutional. The original version of the bill called for suspicionless drug testing of welfare applicants, but Attorney General Robert Cooper (D) warned that such testing was probably unconstitutional, and the bill was amended.

Nashville, TN
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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This bill is not the end of the matter.

Next there will be drug re-education camps for those who test positive.

Then they will become work camps.

Then death camps.

Why not check for alcohol too?

Why stop at testing for drugs? Why not test for alcohol and tobacco too?

How about prescription drugs?

How about prescription drugs? What about the fifth amendment? A urine test is the same as testifying against yourself. And yes it is a criminal matter, being accused of committing a crime makes it so. Also, "the states shall provide for the general welfare of it's people", doesn't mean, if they can pass a drug test. The person who signed off on this law is the enemy of the people and needs to be treated as such.

Why not?

I am 100% for legalization. I am also 100% in favor of this. Being employed I had to take an initial test to get the job and subject to random, suspicion, and accident tests, My tax dollars go to pay for welfare in its many forms, Why should those who benefit from my work while not working not be subject to the same? If they have money for drugs, alcohol, tobacco. or even that fancy $400 iphone why are collecting benefits that are supposed to be for the needy?

i wish more people had the

i wish more people had the same view as you. i dont think its a bad thing to drug test people applying for welfare. like you said if they aren't working and they are getting a cut of your pay, they shouldn't be spending it on drugs, alcohol or tobacco they should be spending it on food and necessities for them or their family. personally i think welfare just gives people an excuse to be lazy and freeload off the government and hard working Americans, but that's just me. yet again im only 16 but thats just what i think.

 

legalize it!

Wait until your 25 and can't

Wait until your 25 and can't find a job anywhere, and the only way to support yourself is to sell drugs, or welfare.

Reply to Bob R

i wish more people had the same view as you. i dont think its a bad thing to drug test people applying for welfare. like you said if they aren't working and they are getting a cut of your pay, they shouldn't be spending it on drugs, alcohol or tobacco they should be spending it on food and necessities for them or their family. personally i think welfare just gives people an excuse to be lazy and freeload off the government and hard working Americans, but that's just me. yet again im only 16 but thats just what i think.

 

legalize it!

Very Interesting

This is just one of many states that are enforcing drug testing for those on welfare. I think soon enough you will see it nationwide. Great article.

House Bill 2725 Legalize it in all states.

How many times are we going to hear about it's unconstitutional????????????????????

Civil rights and Civil liberties.       

This  should have been done years ago, they not all that are on welfare which do take advantage of the system, makes it sad for the ones who really need it.

Our System needs to be cleaned up to. I believe in drug, liquor, smoking to should be part of the testing,  they should pay for it to.  Positive Or Negative, if nothing to hide.

Just think of how much money the Government would save.

Might also create new jobs. 

narcotics

I could not agree more with drug testing government sponsored individuals who take our hard earned tax payers money. Why should the state of TN or any state for that matter give money to individuals who are wasting their money on drugs? If they can afford drugs then they should be able to afford groceries. The states are just giving play money so that these individuals can stay doped up on narcotics. Get a job and buy your own groceries and your own drugs if thats what you want to do.. viviana

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