Reps. push for random drug tests for recipients of public assistance

ATLANTA — Recipients of unemployment benefits might first need to pass a drug test under legislation a Toccoa Republican filed this week.

Rep. Michael Harden, R-Toccoa, proposed the random drug testing for anyone who receives state unemployment benefits or state administered federal assistance. Anyone under 18 years old would not be subjected to the test, and it wouldn't be required for anyone receiving help for medical care.

“(This bill) prevents people who use drugs illegally from receiving public assistance from the taxpayers of Georgia,” Harden said in a news release. “If people are unwilling to follow the law, then they will not be eligible for the voluntary assistance programs listed in this legislation.”

Under HB 1389, the cost of the drug test would be paid for by the person receiving the benefits.

“These programs were meant to be a hand up, not a handout,” Rep. Jimmy Pruett, R-Eastman, a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a news release. “We should use these opportunities to help identify problems that prevent people from getting jobs and becoming productive members of society.”

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