Posted: 4:54 pm Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Drug-testing for food stamp recipients passes late Senate hurdle 

By AJC news

Readers: Much of our website is experiencing technical difficulties, but your Political Insider remains up and running. So for the time being, all your state Capitol news – from the entire AJC crew – can be found here.

By Ariel Hart

A bill headed for the governor’s desk would require recipients of food stamps and welfare to undergo drug tests and pay for them, if a Department of Human Services worker suspected their “demeanor” or in other circumstances. On its final step through the Legislature HB 772 passed the House 100-67.

Gov. Nathan Deal has signed an even broader such bill in the past, but that law got stuck over legal concerns.

HB 772 prompted heated, lengthy debate Thursday, mostly from Democrats who decried it as ill-reasoned, mean, financially irresponsible and unconstitutional. The Republicans who sponsored it, Greg Morris of Vidalia and Don Balfour of Snellville, said it was a reasonable request to make of those who receive state money, when so many job applicants have to take drug tests too.

73 comments
LngSe
LngSe

What about someone who has never paid child support and has been on drugs for years has license a revoked in IL and then can still drive a car and motor cycle and get caught several times by police and still never end up in jail for 12 + years of  never paying child support? Courts aware also!  Everyone know where he lives but, still no one seems to care to help a mom bringing up her children. Said to say these poor kids are almost of age to be on there own.  But for God's Sake take care of those in need.  That is what is more important! Why can't we call these people in when we find out about the dad's whereabouts? I am sickened with  IL law b.s. and how everyone can get away with anything. Yes get we are the arm pit of the US. EXACTLY! Look at the map. I can't believe that these people can buy cars etc and give such false information to get what they want. 

OH and on top of all that this person is getting PUBLIC AID and Food Stamps (card) on top of that.....
Really and probably using someone else's ID or ss#. 

B.S.

And Had enough!

AdonisAsante
AdonisAsante

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Jcrew0319
Jcrew0319

Hey why stop there?... Why not have them take compass test for entry into colleges....and get GED's so they can finish high school... Why not make them take mandatory psych evaluations also. Drug testing is not the solution to the problem. People pass drug test all the time, because of the herbal stuff that can mask the drug usage.

It's time to take the crutch away...yes I received food stamps before, but the whole time I received them I worked and went to school, I have received food stamps in the past, but for short intervals because job applications were easier to fill out than welfare forms. I know it is easy for some people and I think that is because they don't know any better. Someone needs to own up to the real reason why they are encouraging the proverbial permanent crutch of welfare. Which is why the government is robbing the working poor (formally known as the middle class). Rich folks don't pay taxes like the working poor do. So it's easy for them to say let's test for drugs instead of putting money into education and small businesses so that people can take care of themselves.

Money needs to be put into child care so these young mothers can afford to go to work. If you work, in this state and receive food stamps, it is hard to afford child care. By the time they finish paying for transportation, rent, child care all from earnings of a part time job, making 8 dollars an hour there is no money left.

What people don't realize is that they have to crawl before they can walk, and nowadays with all this technology, people can go to school online, using those over priced cell phones that they have. If they go part time, although it will take a long time, the outcome is fantastic.

The food stamp program was originally designed to assist for a short time, and there are other programs put into place to help people get off, if they are poor they qualify for pell grants...they should be made to attend some sort of program for job training, job placement community service. I remember filling out those forms to apply for stamps and had more pleasure applying for a job.

This country gives out too many permanent crutches. We need to stop making excuses and take action.

Signed,

A single parent of 5

About to get a BS at the age of 45+

Janethecleanqueen
Janethecleanqueen

22 people were caught under Florida & Arizona's drug testing for welfare laws …out of 138,000 people at a cost of 5 million dollars! Do you want the tax dollars to go for testing your citizens or helping them?

jeanpell
jeanpell

I live in a rural county NW of Atlanta. Working in a restaurant  exposes me to people that work for under the table wages. They don't pay taxes and get food stamps and often miss work due to their drug usage. It is hard for us who have to work with them and when they don't show-up for work.

I work with one lady that has told me she will buy Food Stamps for a fraction of the worth. i.e. $500 for $250.

This makes me sick. 

Saying YES to drug testing for Food Stamps

Oh...BTW...I am on food stamps. Get $15.00 per month. Willing will take a drug test.

CharlesHendrix
CharlesHendrix

When will the Georgia General Assembly be taking their drug tests? They receive a lot more tax payer funds than someone trying to receive food stamps. Obviously some of our legislators are on drugs. They see threats everywhere around them and need to carry guns everywhere to be "safe". Speaking of keeping safe, the Georgia General Assembly and the Governor do not need a screening system or the Capital Police much less the State Patrol to provide protection for them.  Doesn't the Capital building and the buildings associated with state government have administration and janitorial staff? You need to arm the janitors and administration staff to protect you. This is what you are mandating for our schools so it must be good enough for you as well. There is not a one of you worth the life of a child. Not one. The problem with the current members of the Georgia General Assembly that are from the Republican Party, is they are a bunch of judgmental hypocrites. They judge people based on income and wealth, not who you are but how much you are worth. In case people have not noticed, minorities are worth less.

DS
DS

This is a stupid law based on a made-up story. The idea is that people who receive public assistance, like welfare or food stamps, are probably drug users. So we shouldn't let them receive public assistance, because... why is that again? I forgot...

Oh yeah, it's because they would use the public assistance to help feed themselves and their family. No, that's not it; I mean, they would probably use it to buy more drugs. What's that? Drug dealers don't accept food stamps? Oh, well, wait a minute... Then they would sell the food stamps. That's it! What? Why would anyone buy food stamps for cash rather than just use the cash to buy food? Oh, wait a minute...

As you can see, the entire story falls apart if you just think about it a little bit.

Or you could look at the facts: drug use among the general population is around 8%. Drug use among people who receive public assistance runs around 1.5% - 3%. That's right. People on public assistance use illegal drugs at a lower rate than the general population. Why do you suppose that is? Because they don't have any money!

Everyone knows what's really going on here. This law is just a ruse to humiliate and harass people unfortunate enough to require public assistance. If you can implicate them as bad guys, it's a lot easier to feel better about treating them badly.


Baumer_1
Baumer_1

This is stupid. Florida's failed experiment with drug testing welfare recipients should have been a lesson.

For 1, welfare fraud is almost always vendor initiated. 2ndly, drug tests arr expensive. 3rd, ever hear of detox agents? They are cheap and highly effective.

These drug testing laws are driven by racist stereotypes and misinformation. After all, you so called conservatives forget that children are the primary beneficiaries of welfare. If a methed-out bit of white-trash in Cherokee County tests positive are you prepared to let her children starve?

RBryantS
RBryantS

Everyone knows there's fraud in the system - any system that "can" be played, "will" be played.

But requiring drug tests, based on a government worker's opinion, is just plain wrong and filled with potential lawsuits.

I've always advocated for photo-ID EBT cards.  Sure, the intital cost would be on the table, but if we gave photo-ID cards as reloadable EBT cards then required retailers to verify the photo with the person using, mis-use and "selling" of these cards would certainly decrease.  I'm shocked this has never once been done.

Chris Booker
Chris Booker

When people receive state money, they should be drug tested to make sure they're spending it wisely.  Therefore, Greg Morris and Don Balfour should be immediately drug tested since they just supported using state money to buy a ton of drug testing kits from the company that makes them.  These laws have never effectively reduced the food stamp spending, but have improved the profits of the drug test manufacturing companies.  Can we get a urine sample from Nathan Deal too?

buc93
buc93

maybe we should drug test college students on the hope scholarship.

ThomasBrown
ThomasBrown

Gimme.  Gimme.  Gimme.  And, why shouldn't they take drug test mandatory to get food stamps ?  We also need to make sure they are not making money as casual labor or another name : Therefore, take finger prints.

Manman
Manman

More compassionate conservatism from supposed "Christians"


Remember, Jesus says "feed the rich only, the poors are just lazy good for nothing drug addicts"

td1234
td1234

The only problem with this bill is DFCS does not do face to face interviews any longer so there will be no determination of suspected "demeanor". 

Roger142
Roger142

Florida did this a coupe of years ago, and 98% of the people passed their test.   They spent around $60k for the test, and saved about $30k.   I've got a better idea, how about if someone has cable TV, then they don't qualify for food stamps?

Clarkslawga
Clarkslawga

I am normally not so blunt but I am so tired of lies being used to support a spurious and ignorant argument.

That being said @DeputyDawgUGA , your anecdote is a lie. And a pathetic one at that.

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

You say you are indigent and your children haven't had anything to eat for 3 days?  Sorry, you'll need $17 dollars for a drug test.  I am not a licensed physician but your eyes do look a little peculiar.  We already spent $17 million for the football parking lot (I am little nervous about getting on MARTA - you know -'those people' are usually on there.)  Priorities - we have to decide who is more important and what activity is more important (me seeing the football game or you and your children eating).  We can not waste any food on somebody that might have medications or drugs in their blood stream.  I only use alcohol, medical marijuana, Ativan, and Ambien.  You can tell how well I am doing just by looking at this very large pot belly I have produced.  That's why the most intelligent voters in my district thought that I should represent them.  Pot bellies.  I really speak their language.

Diane13
Diane13

Wow, we all know who the druggies are here! 

Soothsayer2
Soothsayer2

Well, Jay's blog is up and running again. (For how long?)

So, I'll leave you dumbasses to your mindless drivel.

Be sure to berate those without a job, OK?

Bug101
Bug101

I agree with Senate sponsor, Don Balfour, R-Snellville. I work where my employer can require me to take a drug test any time of day on any day of the week. If I fail I was required to sign a legal document which stated the employer could dismiss me at once with no benefits including unemployment.  

Soothsayer2
Soothsayer2

I find it amazing that a country like the United States, which has closed 15 factories a day since 1979 and shipped those jobs to low-wage countries like China, Malaysia, Viet Nam, Mexico, and India, would have the temerity to vilify those without a job.

But, in propaganda land, it is important to control the minds of the sheeple. They must be convinced that those whose jobs have been shipped overseas are out of work because they are lazy, or won't take "good" jobs at $7.25/hr.

Not only that, their jobs were shipped overseas because they belonged to "evil unions" and made more than $7.25/hr.

Yet, those self-same workers turn down the most benign of unions at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga because of intimidation from the Corkers of the World.

In spite of everything, the low-information workers whose jobs have been shipped overseas by corporate America still steadfastly vote Republican.

Go figure!

Soothsayer2
Soothsayer2

I would classify this who exercise as "guilt moderation." If we can paint those without jobs as lazy, drug-crazed layabouts, why then we don't have to feel guilty about shipping their jobs to China.

Menace
Menace

Fortunately we still hae the Fouth Amendment against unreasonable searches.  I find it ironic that those who profess to value the Constitution would toss it aside when it doesn't fit their prejudices.  You can't have it both ways.  However, I can support sanctions for anyone convicted on a drug charge while collecting food stamps or even someone with a prior conviction.  ANd what about those who test with alcohol or nicotine?  Far more money is poored down a rat hole on those susbstances.

LookbeforeIleap
LookbeforeIleap

Whatever money this bill MIGHT save will quickly get eaten up by the cost to defend it when 

the state gets sued.  This is election year pandering at its worst.


The numbskulls in the legislature continue their broadside attacks on the poor with near impunity.

DeputyDawgUGA
DeputyDawgUGA

Absolutely a positive move with the drug testing. Many, many times I've seen these EBT cards sold on the street, in parking lots of gas stations or grocery stores for half price, FOR CASH. You can bet that same cash IS NOT being used to buy groceries. If the Food Stamp recipient (as do the everyday job applicants) has nothing to hide, then why moan about taking a drug test? As Progressive's Flo would put it............ You're scared !

LngSe
LngSe

BTW this is a really good friend that is going through this. 

MaslowK
MaslowK

@DS:  I want to start off by saying I agree that drug testing all welfare recipients indiscriminately is a terrible idea, though less from a "ruse to humiliate/shame" perspective and more a "monumental waste of taxpayer dollars" perspective.


That said;


"Why would anyone buy food stamps for cash rather than just use the cash to buy food?"


Because food stamps are typically sold at a 2:1 ratio, i.e., $100 in food stamps equals $50 in cash. The seller gets unearned funds to spend on whatever, the buyer gets more food per dollar spent. This is one reason they switched from paper vouchers to restricted debit systems (though this doesn't stop the seller from simply doing the shopping with the buyer).


I haven't seen any figures suggesting it's a common enough trend to warrant mandatory drug testing, but it isn't something the proponents of said policy just made up.

M.A.S
M.A.S

@DS@Baumer_1: If your argument holds up, then there should be no problem with passing a drug test. 


People have to pass drug tests to work for certain companies. Why shouldn't they have to pass a drug tests to receive public assistance? And yes, people do see their food stamps for cash, and people actually do pay cash for food stamps. It's crazy, but it happens.


I DO agree that drug tests should not just be administered based on a HR worker's opinion of a person's demeanor, as this could lead to many human and civil rights violations.


However, I DO believe that drug tests should be administered to ALL public assistance recipients.


If we are looking out for the best interests of the children, then those children that are receiving public assistance, should also have the benefit of a drug-free household, and a parent who can be trusted with the welfare of the child. And if they can't then there needs to be more oversight of that household, and its functioning. If it's a substance abuse issue, then that child does not need to be around that anyway.


I mean, people have to go through background checks for the most basic jobs, drug tests for employment, etc. It is definitely something that should be done for public assistance.

td1234
td1234

@Manman  Conservatives do not have a problem with taking care of the truly needy. Conservatives have a huge problem with bailing out able bodied people that chose to make bad life decisions and then just want to sit back and have someone take care of them.  

td1234
td1234

@BravesFan456  They do not have to be branded because everyone that is in store with them knows who they are and then when they check out and whip out the EBT card it is all confirmed. 

Chris Booker
Chris Booker

@td1234  Maybe we should give DFACS a little money so they can afford to do these interviews.  What am I thinking though??? Nobody would vote for more money for DFACS?


Chris Booker
Chris Booker

@Roger142  And Governor Scott owned a major share of stock in the company that made the drug tests.  Coincidence?

BobMWade
BobMWade

@Diane13  supporting equality without discrimination has nothing to do with drug use,  when this was done before it ended up costing the state a whole lot more than the loss of the maximum 2% guilty of drug use, why stop at EBT though, I am all for drug testing before you can even own (not just purchase) a weapon, even though I myself am a gun owner.  The truth is, this is more about using government funds for fraudulent reasons than it is in helping the government save money.  When you apply for an EBT card it's all done on the phone, you never actually meet anyone in person, and you have to be pretty persistent about it because from what I heard they make you wait on hold for hours before the interview even starts.  The only time a human resource person from DFS would see someone is only when they are involved for another reason, child protective services.  This law though, does not focus only on use of the EBT card, this law can be used to target nearly anyone with discrimination and civil rights violations.  I would never personally be able to qualify for the EBT card but if I did and I was drug tested I'd do my best to find a lawyer because this could very easily be ruled unconstitutional and discriminatory.  

honested
honested

@Bug101  

Which demonstrates you have no comprehension of the difference between Private Sector and Public Sector.

I'm sure you are willing to do plenty of tricks to make the boss happy.

LookbeforeIleap
LookbeforeIleap

@Bug101  

Two things that make your argument stupid:

You aren't paying for the drug tests

You have a choice to work where you work.

Folks on food stamps also have a choice, apply for and get benefits or starve.

honested
honested

@Menace  

'Their' Constitution only mentions 'god' and 'guns', everything else is just a legal technicality.

honested
honested

@LookbeforeIleap  

Senator Nan Orock took a moment today to remind everyone of the huge number of un-Constitutional bills they would vote on and the legacy of legal costs they would generate.

Remember, many of our legislators are attorneys in the off season.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@DeputyDawgUGA  Great--and let's let the Legislator from that district have his pay debited for the cost of the test for negative tests!  And pay a "bounty" for positive tests to the caseworker, coming from the legislator's pay!

Soothsayer2
Soothsayer2

@DeputyDawgUGA  Gosh! Dawg! Where on Earth do you live? You've actually witnessed a transaction where an EBT card was sold? That's amazing -- or bullshyte. One or the other.

CharlesHendrix
CharlesHendrix

@M.A.S @DS @Baumer_1  When did the Georgia General Assembly take their drug tests? They receive a hell of a lot more tax payer funding than someone applying for public assistance don't they?  Talk about public assistance. Most of the people making the law do not need public assistance. Most of them are fairly wealthy but here we are... giving them "public assistance" that they do not need to screw over the poor. You are your kind are preposterous with trying to justify the obvious bigotry.

CharlesHendrix
CharlesHendrix

@td1234 @Manman  your definition of truly needed is exactly who? What the hell gives you the belief you get to decide who is truly needy? Your wallet or your portfolio?

Chris Booker
Chris Booker

@td1234 @Manman  The problem is that the scale of the poverty problem is way too big to count on individual charity to solve.  If only there were a big organization that would collect a little money from everyone and then distribute it based on need.  We would democratically elect a group of people to decide which social issues need to be addressed the most.  That way, we could make sure that everyone was contributing according to their ability to give and that the most serious problems were being addressed, with money going to families according to their need.  I wonder what we would call this organization?

td1234
td1234

@LookbeforeIleap @Bug101  That argument goes away as soon as you realize that those people on the other side of the desk determining eligibility are required to random drug testing to keep their jobs. 

LookbeforeIleap
LookbeforeIleap

@td1234 @LookbeforeIleap 

Plenty of non poor people who have kids who act up and plenty of non poor people buy candy.

Got any other asinine generalizations you want to make?

td1234
td1234

@LookbeforeIleap Nope, when their kids do not know how to act. When you look in a person buggy full of candy and the kids sucking on candy in the middle of the store then it is easy to pick out the poor.