Drug Testing for Food Stamps May Violate Federal Law

March 27, 2014 10:14 am

by Tim Darnell · 25 comments

A new law that allows food-stamp and welfare recipients to be tested for drugs may violate federal law.

House Bill 772, approved on the last day of the General Assembly, is currently awaiting Gov. Nathan Deal’s signature.

But as reported in Southern Political Report, a recent email from a federal official shows that at least the food stamp portion of the bill may run into problems.

On March 7, an email was sent to Georgia officials from Robert Caskey of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (the food stamp program). Caskey cited federal law which says, “no state agency shall impose any other standards of eligibility” beyond the provisions of the federal Food and Nutrition Act, which does not require drug testing.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Greg Morris (R-Vidalia), still believes the bill will pass legal muster. 

Almost 2 million Georgians receive food stamps.

ricstewart March 27, 2014 at 10:17 am

Whether it violates federal law or not, it certainly violates common sense.

Lea Thrace March 27, 2014 at 10:24 am

Oh lookie. The GA legislature passed yet another law that will cost taxpayers a ton of money to defend in the court system. Fiscal conservatives my behind!

(And which we will ultimately lose because other bills like this have also been struck down in court).

David C March 27, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Yup. Just like we had to jump in on the anti-Obamacare lawsuits. Why not let Alabama pay the bills for losing lawsuits? It’s not like a Supreme Court decision doesn’t affect Georgia if we don’t file a support brief with the Supremes.

Harry March 27, 2014 at 10:43 am

Why would it be illegal to test welfare recipients for drugs? Employees can be tested, and they’re not eating from public funds. There’s also a good chance if a recipient is on drugs that he’s selling the WIC/SNAP benefit for money.

CJBear71 March 27, 2014 at 11:20 am

You’re just trolling us liberals aren’t you?

People on welfare, food stamps, etc., don’t use drugs any more than the general public does. Based on the limited number of people who were tested in Florida, Utah, and a few other states it may actually be less. About 2% of welfare recipients there tested positive for drugs vs. about 9% of the general population (per National Institute on Drug Abuse) There’s no reason to subject them to a standard of higher scrutiny and drug testing than anyone else.

As for employees being drug tested – private employers can. Public employers generally need a public safety justification for drug testing. The prohibition on unreasonable search and seizure is on the government, not private companies.

This is just going to be a waste of time. The courts are going to strike this down.

Harry March 27, 2014 at 11:32 am

Then let them strike it down. Let’s see what happens from there.
No, I’m not trolling. Believe it or not, 90% of your non-liberal fellow citizens would be upset to know that recipients of government cash equivalents can sell those benefits for drugs with no controls in place.

Mike Stucka March 27, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Multiple courts have ruled it an unreasonable search:

Missouri spent about $500,000 for 20 positive tests:

Believe it or not, 90% of rational citizens probably wouldn’t think the government should spend $10 to save $1 on a witch hunt, which also happens to violate the Constitution.

Dave Bearse March 27, 2014 at 9:53 pm

“There’s also a good chance if a recipient is on drugs that he’s selling the WIC/SNAP benefit for money.”

Unlike corporations that in some instances legally sell tax credits. But there’s no drug testing of executives and shareholders, natch.

Will Durant March 27, 2014 at 11:31 am

“… citing federal law, said that “no state agency shall impose any other standards of eligibility beyond the provisions of the federal Food and Nutrition Act…”

Just another election year pandering bill gone awry.

Harry March 27, 2014 at 11:33 am

Actually, I think this bill is a real good talking point. Let’s see.

xdog March 27, 2014 at 11:41 am

Test the reps while you’re at it.

Will Durant March 27, 2014 at 11:49 am

As a professed fiscal conservative how can you endorse wasting the taxpayer’s money for a “good talking point”?

Harry March 27, 2014 at 11:53 am

How can you endorse wasting the taxpayer’s money to support a drug habit.

Will Durant March 27, 2014 at 12:02 pm

I’m not. Just because the talking point sounds good to the general populace doesn’t mean it will pass muster as law. Now Deal will have to sign this DOA bill into law because it is an election year or risk being accused of supporting drug users drawing welfare the same way you are accusing me of the same for simply pointing out that it is a waste of time and money. It’s federal law and has to be changed at the federal level.

Harry March 27, 2014 at 12:16 pm

All through history, bad policy is changed from the grassroots level.

zedsmith March 27, 2014 at 11:23 pm

I thought that was “activist judges legislating from the bench”.

Posner March 27, 2014 at 2:49 pm

What about the college students with drug and alcohol habits? They are coasting by, living the high (literally) life, on the TAXPAYER DIME. We should ABSOLUTELY be drug testing them too. And probably also random alcohol checks, since most of them receiving scholarships and grants from the TAXPAYERS aren’t even 21.

Using taxpayer money to support a drug habit. Disgraceful.

Lea Thrace March 27, 2014 at 3:41 pm

Let’s not even start talking about state employees and more specifically, members of the legislature…

Will Durant March 27, 2014 at 4:12 pm

I hear they do a lot of fornicating as well. To get a scholarship or grant paid for by TAXPAYERS in the future we need to mandate CHASTITY BELTS for the girls and SALTPETER for the boys.

MaidenCrow March 28, 2014 at 2:11 am

How can you endorse wasting a taxpayers money to allow your government to live like kings and run up our debt by constantly sending our people to war? This issue is a small issue to distract your attention from the REAL problem… WAKE UP AMERICA!

griftdrift March 27, 2014 at 11:58 am

Probably unconstitutional, doesn’t work AND costs money

Someone explain to me how this is in any way “conservative”


John Vestal March 27, 2014 at 12:24 pm

But is it biblical? :>)

Will Durant March 27, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Yes. Our legislature is getting to Know us in the Biblical sense.

The Last Democrat in Georgia March 27, 2014 at 6:21 pm

If Georgia officials do not want to administer the food stamp and welfare programs then why don’t they just withdraw the state from those federal programs and cease participating in them?

Dave Bearse March 27, 2014 at 10:15 pm

It’s grandstand legislation. It’s an election year and state revenues are up, so there’s money to throw around.

Like is being done with an increased appropriation to support hospitals. Expanding Medicaid now wouldn’t cost the state a dime. Meanwhile the GaGOP and Gov Deal will unnecessarily spend millions GA on another type of insurance, re-election insurance, to insure there aren’t any more rural hospitals closing between now and election time, and using taxpayer money is cheaper and easier than raising campaign contributions.

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