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Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients Still Under Consideration in Some States

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Legislators in a number of states are continuing to pursue measures that would deny welfare benefits to people who use illegal drugs, according to USA Today.

In December, a federal judge in Florida ruled the state’s drug-test requirement was unconstitutional. Florida’s law required welfare applicants to undergo mandatory drug testing. Judge Mary S. Scriven of the United States District Court in Orlando ruled the testing requirement violated the protection against unreasonable searches.

State legislators around the country are considering drug-testing bills they hope will withstand legal challenges, the article notes. Some measures would require written tests designed to spot people who abuse drugs, while others would deny benefits to people with recent drug convictions.

Alabama, Indiana and Mississippi are among the states where drug-testing measures have advanced in state legislatures with overwhelming majorities. Some legislators say they support drug testing to encourage people who use drugs, while on public assistance, to get help. Others say they want to save money, or to make sure tax dollars do not subsidize drug use.

“Some states have gotten smarter,” said Jason Williamson, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which opposes drug-testing laws. “There are certainly ways that a state could formulate one of these programs that would make it very difficult to challenge.”

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