Conservatives Demand Expensive Drug Testing to Attack the Poor
January 25, 2012
House Bill 73, requiring that those applying for TANF and other welfare assistance be screened and tested for illegal drugs before receiving such assistance, passed the House yesterday. Despite having no evidence that drug-use among this population is a significant problem, conservative lawmakers are pushing this bill, which would like cost much more than it saves.
Progressive Point: Initiatives to drug test public assistance recipients amount to bullying people who are already struggling and simply seeks to humiliate and shame those who have fallen on hard times in a bad economy and need assistance. It is wrong to deny people their constitutional rights and conduct illegal searches simply because they are poor. The party of supposedly small government is flying in the face of the constitution, imposing their radical social agenda on Virginians, and intruding in our daily lives.
In addition to ignoring the constitution, this bill unfairly targets the poor for government scrutiny. Rather than mandating that everyone who participates in a government program first be checked for drug-use, it specifically attacks the poor, making it clear that this bill is not aimed at combating drug-use or saving money at all. Conservative lawmakers need to focus on creating jobs and lifting up the middle class rather than implementing harsh and expensive testing procedures and attacking the poor for no reason.
Get the Facts:
- A judge in Florida has halted similar procedures, claiming they were unconstitutional because such screening and drug testing constitute an unreasonable search and seizure.
- Of 7,000 tests conducted in Florida, only 32 (0.45%) of the applicants failed, proving that this is not a real problem.
- This bill will cost taxpayers $1.3 million dollars each year.