Last Modified: Thursday, May 31, 2012 2:26 PM
BATON ROUGE — A Senate committee killed a bill Wednesday that would have required random drug testing for welfare recipients after opponents argued that the state already has an effective way to identify drug users.
The Senate Judiciary B Committee voted 3-1 to involuntarily defer House Bill 380, by Rep. Sherman Mack, R-Livingston. It would have required 500 random people who get cash assistance from the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program to be drug tested. The original bill called for 20 percent of the recipients — about 1,400 people — to be tested.
Under the bill, those who test positive for drugs could get their benefits back if they seek treatment and pass a second test within 90 days. Those who pass up treatment could take another drug test after one year.
Carmen Weisner, executive director of the National Association of Social Workers Louisiana Chapter, said the state has a good system to identify possible drug users.
The Department of Children and Family Services uses an evidence-based screening process to find welfare applicants who have the greatest risk of using drugs and refers them to the state Department of Health and Hospitals.
Weisner said Mack’s bill “expends state funds that could be used on other services.”
Rob Tasman, associate director of the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops, said he has moral concerns with the bill because it targets people who are in need of financial assistance.
“A bill like this, whether the intent is that or not, implies that those who are receiving benefits are drug users,” he said. “I don’t think that is good policy. I don’t think that’s a good view of humanity.”
Mack countered, saying the state doesn’t “think it’s immoral to drug-test doctors and nurses who work at Catholic hospitals” or “athletes who go to Catholic schools.”
Voting to defer the measure were Sens. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, Gregory Tarver, D-Shreveport, and Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte.
Sen. Norby Chabert, R-Houma, voted against deferring the bill.
Mack said he plans to bring the bill up again during next year’s session.
Posted By: Shane LaPoint On: 5/31/2012
Title: Drug testing for Welfare
I have to be drug tested to be able to get or keep my job, but you got these LAZY people that live off of my tax dollars, that don't have to get drug tested. I believe that that is discrimnation against the working class people of this great state. I believe that the senators that voted against the bill, are the problem. You should be able to only get welfare of at least two years of you entire life, if you use it up all at once, then to bad, "GET A JOB" and learn how support your own family instead of other people supporting them!!!!!
Posted By: Flora Stringer On: 5/30/2012
Title: Senators reject drug testing of welfare recipients
Bad move Senators. Drug testing should be mandatory for those receiving welfare assistance of any kind.