Lawmakers Eye Mandatory Drug Testing For Welfare Recipients

HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-State lawmakers are pondering a proposal that would implement mandatory drug tests for some welfare recipients in Alabama.

Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) is co-sponsoring the legislation, which he says would cut out welfare corruption and save valuable taxpayer dollars. According to the bill, welfare participants who have had a drug conviction within the last five years would be required to take a test, along with anyone who welfare officials have a reasonable suspicion about. The bill has already passed the Alabama Senate, with a vote in the House possibly coming as soon as this week.

“It’s kind of a common sense bill as far as I’m concerned,” said Orr. “I think it makes sense that if someone is a drug abuser that we don’t facilitate it…I think this is something that the taxpayers in this state would like to see in place. They don’t mind helping those in need, but they certainly don’t want to see those receiving free benefits to abuse them.”

If the law were to take effect, welfare recipients who fail two drug tests would lose their benefits for one year. A third failing test would lead to permanent cutoff from benefits.

The state of Florida recently passed a similar law for all welfare recipients, but that legislation is currently being upheld in federal court. Lawmakers say Alabama’s more narrow scope will make it harder to be challenged.

The welfare drug testing bill’s main sponsor is Sen. Trip Pittman (R). Sen. Orr is sponsoring a companion bill that would prevent welfare recipients from using their benefits on alcohol, strip clubs and other frivolous items.