MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama Republican Sen. Trip Pittman introduced legislation last year in the 2013 session that would have put measures in place to strip welfare payments from those individuals that test positive for drug use; the bill died in the House without a vote after passing in the Senate. Senator Pittman is teeing this legislation up again in the 2014 session with hopes of passage.
Here's a little background on how this law would work. All welfare recipients that have a misdemeanor drug use conviction in the last five years must take and pass a drug test (paid for by the state) in order to receive welfare benefits. If they fail the first test, they get a warning and will be tested again later. If they fail the 2nd time, they lose benefits for one year and a failure the 3rd time around will result in permanent welfare benefit ineligibility. For the record, Alabama already bans welfare for people with felony drug convictions … this new law would expand and cover those individuals with misdemeanor drug offenses.
We like this bill for a couple reasons. Number one, it should discourage those that use drugs and need federal assistance to stop further drug use or risk losing their welfare benefits. But, let's be honest – a couple hundred dollars a month in welfare checks not received is not enough of a deterrent for most to quit an addiction. The other reason and equally important, is if you break the law you shouldn't be allowed to participate in a program such as this.
Lawmakers, let's get this one passed this year so we can further clean up Alabama's welfare program.