During its journey through the General Assembly, a bill that would require drug testing for some applicants for food stamps and welfare generated controversy and drew fierce opposition from Democrats. Ultimately, though, House Bill 772 was approved on the final day of the legislative session last week. It would require people applying for this government assistance to be tested if they raise “reasonable suspicion’’ of illegal drug use.
A bill requiring food stamp and welfare recipients to submit to drug testing if suspected of illegal drug use has taken another step forward in the General Assembly. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee narrowly approved HB 772 on Monday.
Georgians looking for help staying warm this winter are finding long lines and reduced budgets at assistance programs. Low-income residents can apply for federally-financed home heating through community organizations. Last month's cuts in food stamp benefits led to a record number of applicants for energy assistance.
The number of people relying on food stamps in Georgia is rising. The program a year ago provided food assistance to a record 1.91 million people in the state a year ago. By this June, the program had added 40,000 more recipients.
Dwindling jobs and the lingering economic slowdown have led to a big jump in the number of Georgians on food stamps. US Agriculture Department officials say, there are now 1.8 million people receiving food stamps in the state, a 42% rise from two years ago. Those numbers leave out people eligible for but not using the benefit.