Tennessee House to Consider Bill that Would Drug Test Welfare Applicants

Apr 23, 2012

A proposal to drug test people as a condition for receiving welfare in Tennessee is advancing in the House. The measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Julia Hurly of Lenoir City was approved on a voice vote in the House Finance Committee Monday. The companion bill is awaiting a Senate floor vote.

The proposal differs from original legislation that the state's attorney general said was constitutionally suspect. That bill would have drug tested applicants who had been convicted of using drugs within five years.

The opinion said that approach would violate the constitutional rights of applicants who have a right not to be drug tested unless there is suspicion that they are taking illegal drugs.

Under the amended version, new welfare applicants would undergo a special screening process. If suspicion is raised after the screening, then the applicant would be drug tested.