More states want drug testing for welfare

March 1, 2012 at 12:40 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 1 (UPI) -- More U.S. states are considering regulations that would require applicants for welfare to get drug testing or allow random testing of recipients.

Three states now have laws in place, USA Today reported. In Florida, all applicants must be tested while in Arizona and Missouri authorities can order testing if there is reasonable suspicion of illegal drug use.

More than 20 states are thinking of joining them. In Colorado, a bill before the Legislature would require all welfare applicants to be tested at their own expense with the state reimbursing those who pass, the newspaper said.

"If you have enough money to be able to buy drugs, then you don't need the public assistance," said state Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, a Republican who sponsored the legislation. "I don't want tax dollars spent on drugs."

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a legal challenge to the Florida law. Jason Williams, a lawyer with the Criminal Law Reform Project, said no group should be required to undergo testing without cause.

"This exemplifies the extent to which folks are willing to scapegoat poor people when it suits political interests," Williamson said. "Subjecting people who are receiving public benefits to government intrusion, and the singling out of poor people in this country under the guise of saving money is worrisome to us."

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