Legislation requiring drug tests for some people applying for welfare benefits goes into effect July 1.
Gov. Nathan Deal signed House Bill 861 into law Monday.
Rep. Christian Coomer, R-Cartersville, said the provisions of the Social Responsibility and Accountability Act are not too much to ask.
“We have a history and a policy in Georgia for making people accountable for government funds they receive,” he said. “I think it’s a fair stipulation that people asking for money for subsistence ought to be able to demonstrate they are not using it for drugs.”
The Georgia General Assembly votes on the measure fell mainly along party lines. However, all five members of Floyd County’s delegation — three Republicans and two Democrats — supported the final version of the bill.
Democrats criticizing the proposal said it’s an unfair burden on the poor, and Gerry Weber of the Southern Center for Human Rights said the organization is prepared to file a lawsuit once it is put into practice.
“We are disappointed that the governor signed this and we believe that the state should await the outcome of Florida litigation involving the exact same drug testing scheme,” Weber said Monday. “It’s going to take a while for them to implement this. That would all have to happen before any lawsuit can be filed.”
Coomer said reports that Florida’s law netted a smaller percentage of drug-users than appear in the total population don’t prove the initiative is a failure. Rather, he said, it could have deterred drug-users from seeking benefits.
“This law is not about keeping people who need it from getting public assistance, it’s about being responsible with the very limited amount of resources we have,” Coomer said. “I think it helps not only the state to be more responsible with its funds, but it helps the person dealing with an addiction by motivating him to get help.”
State Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, said lawmakers worked to make sure the bill would pass muster with the courts and that Georgia’s law addresses concerns about privacy and illegal search and seizure raised in other states. Albers said Monday he is not worried about a legal challenge.
The state Department of Human Services is being directed to create a drug-testing program that would be paid for by welfare applicants.
Under the bill, those able to prove they are receiving Medicaid would pay a maximum of $17, and those without Medicaid would be responsible for the full cost of the drug test. Applicants who take the drug test at their own expense would be eligible for reimbursement if they test negative.
Read more: RN-T.com - Deal OKs bill requiring drug testing for welfare recipients
Gonna be yet another giant waste of money. Nothing but a giant pointless waste of money