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Georgia approves welfare drug tests

April 17, 2012 at 4:43 PM

ATLANTA, April 17 (UPI) -- A bill signed by Georgia's governor will oblige parents seeking welfare to be drug-tested at their own expense, provoking a challenge in court.

The new law requires parents applying for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funding, a federal program to help poor families with children, to pay for and pass a drug test as a condition of eligibility.

The bill, signed Monday without fanfare by Gov. Nathan Deal, is likely to set off a round of court challenges by opponents who claim it violates the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches. Supporters say it will save money and promote personal responsibility, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday.

"We are disappointed the governor signed the bill, given an almost identical law in Florida has been declared unconstitutional," said Gerry Weber, a Southern Center for Human Rights lawyer.

The center is preparing to file a lawsuit when the state begins testing applicants, which should begin in several weeks, the newspaper reported.

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