Bills requiring drug testing for welfare recipients - CBS46 News

Bills requiring drug testing for welfare recipients causing controversy

Posted: Updated:

Controversial legislation moving through the capitol would require welfare recipients to submit to drug tests. The bills' supporters say the goal is to make sure people don't spend state money on illegal drugs and also to provide options to rehabilitate addicts.

But the head of the Georgia State chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says this bill is flat-out unconstitutional.

Plus, a widowed mother of two children said a law like that is a violation of her privacy.

"I'm definitely a survivor and if I don't have a way, I make a way," said Jamie Roman. "I'm lucky like that, I'm blessed."

Roman scrimps and saves to keep food in the pantry for her and her two young children. Her husband Walt died last October, and she suffers from a kidney condition and can't work.

"Now, I am the sole provider and caretaker of my two children," said Roman.

State lawmakers are working on legislation they say would protect tax payer dollars by requiring a drug test to receive food stamps. Supporters of the bills say it's about protecting children and getting drug addicts the help they need.

"I don't know many drug addicts that freely admit they're drug addicts so this is going to get them on the radar screen so we can get them the help that they deserve," said State Republican Representative Michael Harden of Toccoa. "They're receiving the hard earned tax payer dollars of the people of this state, that alone puts them into that qualification to be drug tested."

But the Executive Director of the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, Debbie Seagraves said the bills are illegal.

"It would absolutely violate the Fourth Amendment," said Seagraves. "I cannot believe that folks who continually talk about big government in our lives and how do we make government smaller are OK with allowing big government."

"I would be affected by this and I think it's offensive," said Roman. "I really do."

Roman, her 5-year-old son Colton and 9-year-old daughter Taya collect wood from their front yard to heat their home, they're saving money any way they can.

"All of the sudden you're less than, and a criminal automatically," said Roman. "I don't think that's fair, I really don't think that's fair."

Both the Senate and the House passed their own versions of the bills - now they have to find common ground on the language before it lands on the governor's desk.

Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.