Hurley-Campfield Welfare Drug-Testing Bill Heads to Haslam



To Rep. Julia Hurley's overflowing joy, a bill requiring suspicion-based drug testing for Tennessee welfare applicants is on its way to Gov. Bill Haslam's desk, after passing the House this morning by a vote of 73-17. An earlier version of the bill called for testing of all applicants — and even some people currently receiving benefits — and was declared constitutionally suspect in two opinions from the state's attorney general. In its narrowed final form, the bill appears, at least, to be legal.

The proposal is the brainchild of Republicans Hurley and Sen. Stacey Campfield. On the House floor Tuesday, Hurley again rejected a proposed amendment that would have required testing for lawmakers and another that would have required the state to pay for the tests.

While other states, such as Florida — which barely broke even on a similar program before it was halted by a federal judge — have reimbursed applicants who prove to be drug-free, Hurley and Campfield's bill does not. It would require testing for any applicant with a prior drug conviction or anyone who raises suspicion based on a screening.

Haslam had expressed concerns with the bill on legal grounds, but has not commented on it since it was essentially rewritten.

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