Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bill Would Drug Test Some Welfare Recipients

The state House passed a measure yesterday that would require two drug tests for welfare applicants who’ve recently been convicted of a drug offense.

People who fail the first drug test would be given another chance for benefits if they undergo treatment, but failure of the second test denies applicants assistance for a year.

One-fifth of current welfare recipients would also be randomly selected for the tests every six months.

Representative Garth Everett of Lycoming County is the bill’s prime sponsor. In a news release, Everett said taxpayers shouldn’t be “paying for illegal drugs for individuals receiving state welfare benefits.”

American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania Legislative Director Andy Hoover says the legislation “plays into stereotypes” and offers a punitive approach to drug abuse. Hoover adds that doing a drug test is a search.

“So if the government wants to do a search, they have to have suspicion that the person committed a crime of some sort, and this is blanket drug testing of a certain group of people,” says Hoover.

The bill is one of several Republican welfare reform measures recently passed by the House. It now moves to the Senate for consideration.

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