Welfare drug testing bill awaits Gov. Bentley's signature - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Welfare drug testing bill awaits Gov. Bentley's signature

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Source: WBRC video Source: WBRC video
TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) -

Some state lawmakers call the passage of the drug testing for welfare recipients bill the right move for Alabama.

"I think it's a positive step for the state whenever you are trying to help families be in a stronger and better position to help themselves," State Representative John Merrill (R)/62nd District said.

The bill passed by the House Thursday says people can keep their benefits after one positive drug test. After a second positive test, the person would be ineligible for one year. But after a third positive, the person would be permanently ineligible.

State Representative Chris England (D) says the bill is just for show and doesn't have any teeth. England says there are already similar drugs testing laws on the books.

"It's just one of those bills, election year pandering, that is to send a slogan out but really no substance to it," England/70th District said.

England said the bill shows lawmakers are appealing to the lowest common dominator.

"It's vilifying a group of people with the presumption that because you're poor, you must be on drugs," England added.

However, England's colleagues, like Merrill, disagree. Merrill said the bill will help keep people honest.

"We believe this piece of legislation will help prevent fraud. It will help to prevent abuse. And is designed to ensure the credible use of those resources made available to these individuals are being used for the purpose for which they were intended," Merrill said.

The House passed the bill 73-27. The welfare drug testing bill now awaits Governor Robert Bentley's signature.

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