Lawmakers want drug tests for welfare recipients

ATLANTA — A state senator from Metro Atlanta and a state representative from South Georgia want to implement mandatory drug testing for people who receive aid from the state.

State Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, said any Georgians receiving cash through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program who fail the test for illegal drugs would be barred from receiving state benefits for one month. If a would-be recipient were to fail the test three times, he or she would be barred from receiving TANF aid for three years, according to Spencer’s proposal.

“Georgia taxpayers have a vested interest in making sure that their hard-earned tax dollars are not being used to subsidize drug addiction,” state Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, said in a news release. “In these tough economic times, it is easy to understand that many deserving families need some temporary help until they can bounce back financially – that’s why we have public assistance programs like TANF. This additional eligibility requirement will simply ensure that those funds are used for that intended purpose.”

Added Spencer: “The intent of this bill is not to criminalize the actions of applicants who test positive for drug use. It is to protect children from harm and to direct the addicted parent to drug rehab. If the parents are addicted, they will not be able to hold on to a job and get off public assistance”.

State Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, said a similar measure in the Senate — named the “Social Responsibility and Accountability Act” — “is a step in the right direction for our hardworking citizens, and will curb the entitlement mentality that has become so pervasive in our society.”

Albers said under his measure any would-be recipients who fail the test for illegal drugs would be barred from receiving state benefits for a period of time. Under Albers’ measure, the Georgia Department of Human Services would set the exact period of time.

“Georgians should no longer have to foot the heavy burden of paying for those with drug addictions,” Albers said in a news release. “Earlier this year, similar welfare-related drug screening was passed in Florida and Missouri, and has set a new precedent for social accountability and responsibility.”
The measures will be considered when the state legislature convenes in January.

“The Social Responsibility and Accountability Act touts the virtues of individual responsibility and accountability, and relieves the taxpayer from undue tax burdens,” Albers said. “The proposed legislation would serve to reward law-obeying citizens who need assistance the most.”

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