A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Archive for January, 2012

Weeding Out Drugs From Welfare

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By Ryan Morrison

Welfare tends to be a polarizing issue in America. Whether you believe welfare recipients are (a) little more than lazy drug addicts suckling at the teat of America’s hard-working middle class, (b) that they are good people who have temporarily fallen on hard times, or (c) something in between, you probably have a strong opinion on the subject.

I’m a news junkie and consume with gusto, from media outlets highbrow and lowbrow alike. And it seems to me that choice (a) is, more and more, the go-to thinking of many of us above the poverty line.

“Taxpayers have a vested interest in making sure that their hard-earned tax dollars are not being used to subsidize drug addiction,” says Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, GA. And to date, 32 states, have decided the best solution to this problem is to drug test potential welfare recipients.

Governor Rick Scott of Florida, who championed the idea of bringing drug tests to Floridian welfare recipients, recently signed a bill into law that would do just that. Since July, new applicants for welfare in Florida must not only take a drug test to receive benefits, but they have had to foot the bill, and are reimbursed if they pass. If they fail they must wait one year to reapply for benefits. Meantime, at the federal level Senator David Vitter, R-Louisiana, is sponsoring the Drug Free Families Act of 2011, which would require all 50 states to drug-test welfare applicants.

Never mind that the notion that taxpayers are funding welfare recipients’ drug habits has been proven untrue. Never mind that the monthly government aid that welfare recipients receive would seem a pittance to most readers of this article:  $180 for a single person or $364 for a family of four.

Never mind that such drug tests may be unconstitutional.   (more…)

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