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Georgia to begin drug-testing welfare recipients

Posted Apr 30, 2014 4:44 PM CDT
By Victor Li

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A new law in Georgia will require some applicants for food stamps and welfare benefits to pass drug tests.

Reuters reports that Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed the legislation Tuesday. The law allows government officials to test applicants if they have “reasonable suspicion” that they use drugs. The state can temporarily revoke benefits to someone who flunks a drug test, although the law allows children of that person to receive benefits from another adult.

Through a spokesman, Deal said that the law was necessary because drugs prevent people from finding and keeping jobs. “If some, however, reject treatment and instead choose a lifestyle that renders them unemployable, taxpayers shouldn't have to subsidize that,” Brian Robinson told Reuters.

Meanwhile, opponents of the law have stated that they will challenge it in court. Debbie Seagraves, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, called the law “shameful” and argued that it violated the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches. Seagraves also questioned the ability of government workers to detect possible drug use in applicants. “It’s a badly flawed bill,” she said to Reuters. “It will be challenged.”

Last year, a federal judge in Florida struck down the state’s bill requiring drug screening for welfare recipients that was signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott after finding that it violated the constitution's ban on unreasonable searches. Also last year, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory vetoed a similar bill, citing lack of success in other states.


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