There are a lot of touchy issues out there. There are always people looking to pick a fight over most any topic. If I were to tell you that one of the major political parties objected to testing welfare recipients for drugs and taking them off the dole if they are not clean, which do you think it would be?
What Does Virginia Think?
According to hamptonroads.com, a House of Delegates committee has advanced legislation that would require drug testing of Virginia welfare recipients. Objecting are the state’s Democrats who argued that the proposal amounts to an attack on poor people.
The bill would require local social services agencies to screen recipients in the state welfare program to determine whether they use illegal drugs. Those who refused to comply or failed a drug test would lose Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits for one year unless they entered a drug treatment program. A recipient would have one opportunity to be reinstated to the program by complying with screening, assessment and treatment requirements.
A 2008 study of World Health Organization data on marijuana, cocaine, alcohol and tobacco use in the United States and 16 other nations found that higher-income people were more likely to use both legal and illegal drugs.
Lionell Spruill, a democrat from Chesapeake, said the legislation unfairly targets the poor and questioned why the same testing requirement isn't applied to other recipients of taxpayer funds - including members of the General Assembly.
Under the legislation, a welfare recipient would have to submit to an initial test to determine whether there was "probable cause" to believe the person was using illegal drugs. If probable cause existed, the social services agency would conduct a formal substance-abuse assessment, which could include more drug testing.
Is this testing even Constitutional? Recently a federal judge in Florida halted that state's law requiring drug testing of welfare recipients.
However, the Florida law did not have "the initial screening component" that the Virginia law has to determine probable cause.
The analysis assumed that 10 percent of the individuals who were screened would be referred for formal drug tests, which would cost $345 per person. The tests would cost $25 to $35 apiece.
Interesting idea that I think I favor. What do you think?