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Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 12:01pm

Debate Rages Over Welfare Drug Testing

Updated: 2 years ago.
The bill would require parents who apply for public assistance to pay for and pass a random $17 dollar drug test in order to receive benefits. (Photo Courtesy: Micah Baldwin via Flickr.)

Protesters rallied on the Capitol steps Thursday morning. They are upset about the possible passage of a bill that would require welfare recipients to pass a drug test.

The bill would require parents who apply for public assistance to pay for and pass a random $17 dollar drug test in order to receive benefits.

Opponents argue the bill would unfairly punish poor people.

But advocates say the bill is needed to protect children and make sure tax money isn’t spent on illegal drugs.

Charmaine Davis, Georgia State Director for 9 to 5 Atlanta, says the logic behind the legislation is not grounded in any research or data:

“When this type of legislation was passed in the state Florida, less than 2% of TANF [welfare] recipients who were tested actually were found with drugs in their system, so we know this is just an effort to continue to demonize the poor and to blame poor people for being in the place that they’re in.”

The bill must go back to the House for agreement or will be referred to a conference committee for a compromise.

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