Welfare Drug Testing Bill Stopped

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Updated: 3/08/2012 6:24 pm
State Representative Lonnie Napier claims 94 percent of the people want drug testing of welfare recipients, but for the second time in as many years, his bill to require that has stalled in a house committee.  Napier’s bill was debated Thursday, but a vote was not called, leading to a boycott of the meeting by members of the sponsor’s minority party.  Napier is a Republican in the Democrat controlled Kentucky House.
 
"This bill that I have drafted is all about protecting the children and also trying to help get people off of drugs,” Napier, R-Lancaster told the eight Democrats who attended the Health and Welfare Committee meeting.  Ten Democrats and six Republicans are members of the panel.
 
Napier’s bill calls for random drug tests of those on public assistance and tests when a case worker finds probable cause of illegal drug use.  He claims our tax dollars are “paying people to stay on illegal drugs.”
 
The proposal was blasted by Democratic lawmakers.  "This bill sort of kind of reeks of some discrimination against poor people," said Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville.
 
"”Does it include General Motors, who the government just baled out?” asked Rep. Jim Glenn, D-Owensboro.  “Do we test all these people,  cause they're already receiving public assistance. I don't want to just test the poor."
 
"If they're not on drugs my friend they don't have to worry, they don't have to worry,” Napier responded.
 
Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, said going on food stamps is already “stigmatizing” enough.  "I think if we go further and are requiring them to pee in a cup, I mean, how demoralizing is that,” said Jenkins.
 
House Health and Welfare Chairman, Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, said he hates the bill.  He refused to call a vote on the legislation.  Knowing that, Republicans on the committee boycotted the meeting, a move Burch said he was “disappointed” in.
 
"Lonnie's a good man and his heart is in the right place, but this is the wrong vehicle to go after,” Burch said of Napier’s plan to drug test those who receive welfare. " 
 
This is the second time in as many sessions of the General Assembly that Napier’s idea has been stopped.  “Listen, the public out there is sick and tired of this kind of stuff going on and them not getting to vote a bill up or down,” Napier said.

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