Fri., March 30, 2012 1:08am (EDT)

Welfare Drug Test Bill Heads To Governor
By Jeanne Bonner
Updated: 2 years ago

ATLANTA  —  
A bill that would require welfare recipients to take a drug test before receiving benefits is headed to Governor Nathan Deal for his signature. Opponents say the measure is unconstitutional but supporters say it’s fair and lawful.
A bill that would require welfare recipients to take a drug test before receiving benefits is headed to Governor Nathan Deal for his signature. Opponents say the measure is unconstitutional but supporters say it’s fair and lawful.
A bill that would require welfare recipients to take a drug test before receiving benefits is headed to Governor Nathan Deal for his signature. Opponents say the measure is unconstitutional but supporters say it’s fair and lawful.

The bill aims to cut down on what supporters say is widespread welfare fraud.

It would require welfare applicants to arrange and pay for a drug test.

The bill mirrors a Florida law a federal judge has blocked because it violates the Fourth Amendment’s protection from unlawful search.

But House Speaker David Ralston, a Blue Ridge Republican, says he’s not worried that the courts would overturn the law.

“We tried to be very sensitive to the Florida experience and I think those who worked on the bill addressed some of the concerns that were raised down there," he said after the session concluded. "I’m optimistic and I’m actually confident it will survive a challenge.”

The General Assembly’s own legislative counsel, however, says the bill may not be constitutional.

Legal experts say the state must have a reason to single out one group for drug testing.