A bill requiring food stamp and welfare recipients to submit to drug testing if suspected of illegal drug use has taken another step forward...

A bill requiring food stamp and welfare recipients to submit to drug testing if suspected of illegal drug use has taken another step forward in the General Assembly.

Rep. Greg Morris

Rep. Greg Morris

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee narrowly approved HB 772 on Monday.

With four Republicans in favor of the bill and four Democrats opposed, Committee Chairwoman Renee Unterman (R-Buford) broke the tie, siding with her GOP colleagues in moving the legislation out of committee toward a vote by the full Senate.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Greg Morris (R-Vidalia), passed the House last week.

Morris told the Senate committee the bill does not mandate drug testing for all food stamp and welfare recipients, but has a testing provision that is triggered when state employees who administer the programs have a “reasonable suspicion” of drug use. A positive test would require subsequent screening to get benefits.

Food stamps (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) and welfare (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) are administered by the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) within the Georgia Department of Human Services.

Numerous organizations oppose the bill, calling it discriminatory toward the poor and saying it could hinder families from getting help when they need it most. The opponents have also voiced concerns about making DFCS employees responsible for detecting suspected drug use.

Groups opposed included the Atlanta Community Food Bank, the Southern Center for Human Rights, Mental Health America of Georgia, the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse and Families First of Georgia.

Gerry Weber, senior counsel for the Southern Center for Human Rights, told lawmakers the bill is unconstitutional and will lead to expensive litigation.

Morris said his bill will prevent taxpayer dollars from subsidizing illegal drug use and will save money.

He acknowledged that he does not have specific evidence of any people on food stamps using illegal drugs. But he noted that one in five Georgians receives food stamps. Given the high incidence of drug use in society, Morris said, it’s reasonable to assume some food stamp recipients are on drugs.

Morris told his fellow legislators, “We have worked hard to craft a constitutional bill, but I’m sure it will be challenged.”

The Senate committee Monday also approved HB 899, a bill sponsored by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), which would toughen penalties on operators of unlicensed
personal care homes.

Among resolutions approved was SR 756, sponsored by Sen. Joshua McKoon (R-Columbus), which would set up a study committee on medical marijuana.

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Charles Craig

  • gadawg

    I whole heartedly believe drug testing should be implemented across the board. All recipients of state assistance should have to take and pass a drug test. Let’s get real if a person is receiving food stamps or other assistance and tests positive it’s pretty obvious where their money is going. The state should not support their drug and/or alcohol habits. If they tests positve it’s a good assumption that drug use/abuse is at the root of their financial woes. How else will we be able to stop the system abuse and manipulation?

    • tootypop

      Have you ever been down in out and hit hard times? Probably not the way your talking! Guess what your going to get old too! And you will need assistance one day. You think your going to be working at seventy years old? I dont think so.So stop running your mouth. Then you got people with disabilities. That can’t do anything. That need food stamps. What do you think your better? Just because you think your smarter? They are human too. And no all of them are born from incest. Maybe its the medication doctors give them. Its genetic in most cases. I hate when lawmakers have no idea what its like to be out here in the real world.struggling.greedy people is all I can say!

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  • tootypop

    Well I think if they have a drug background then yeah test them of course because that is reasonable cause. But for a person like me. Has no history of drugs drug abuse or alcohol or anything on my record. I think they should leave me alone. I don’t do drugs. Why do I have to be made feel like a criminal for something I have not done? I am innocent.why should I have to prove something I’ve never done. Do baxkground checks.please and leave the innocent alone.morris why didn’t it get put in the bill for that? And why don’t they send the ones records to them and show them. Send anyones records to dfacs that has done drugs. Duh! The elderly and people who can’t work need this.ugh! Makes me mad the innocent always getting crapped on.

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