Tags: nc | welfare | drug | tests

GOP Governor Fights Own Party Over Drug Tests

Friday, 06 Sep 2013 02:37 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

North Carolina's first-term Republican governor is refusing to cooperate with GOP lawmakers who want required drug tests for people seeking welfare benefits.

Republicans voted to override Gov. Pat McCrory's veto of a drug-testing bill that they, with Democratic support, passed this earlier this summer, reports The Huffington Post. 

However, McCrory still thinks the bill is a bad way to fight drug abuse in his state, and says he won't implement its provisions until lawmakers find a way to pay for it.

"The executive branch won't take any action on the new law’s implementation until sufficient funds with this unfunded mandate are provided, not only for the Department of Health and Human Services, but also the funding for consistent application across all 100 counties, McCrory said on his website.

When he vetoed the bill in August, the governor said it had proven financially burdensome in other states, and that it was difficult to implement and financially irresponsible.

"This is not a smart way to combat drug abuse," McCrory said. "Similar efforts in other states have proved to be expensive for taxpayers and did little to actually help fight drug addiction. It makes no sense to repeat those mistakes in North Carolina."

But state Rep. Dean Arp, one of the bill's Republican sponsors, said its purpose isn't to directly fight abuse, but to "end a bad practice of supporting active drug abusers with the hard-earned money of law-abiding North Carolinians."

But forcing welfare recipients to pay for drug tests before getting their welfare benefits is "cruel," said a representative for The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina.

"Forcing people in need to pay up front for urine tests is not only cruel but will likely deter many low-income families from even applying for assistance," said Sarah Preston. "Why the legislature was so adamant about passing this bill is unclear, since all available evidence shows that public aid applicants are no more likely to use drugs than the general public, and similar programs in other states have been found to be unconstitutional and fiscally wasteful."

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