Democrats unite, kill bill to test welfare recipients for drugs
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
On a party line vote, the Virginia Senate has killed legislation that would require local social services agencies to screen welfare recipients for possible drug use and subject some to drug tests.
The bill died on a 20-19 vote Monday, with all of the Senate’s Democrats opposing it. Republican Sen. Harry Blevins of Chesapeake was away from his desk when the vote occurred.
This is the second year in a row that Republican lawmakers have pushed for such legislation, which Democrats have blasted as an effort to exploit the poor for political purposes. A similar House-sponsored bill has stalled in the budget-writing Appropriations Committee.
Senate Bill 721, sponsored by Sen. Bill Carrico, R-Grayson County, would have required local social services departments to screen each participant in the Virginia Initiative for Employment Not Welfare program and determine whether there was “probable cause” to believe the person was using drugs.
Those suspected of using drugs would have been required to take drug tests and lose benefits for 12 months if they refused and tested positive.<
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