Controversial Bill

Drug Testing Welfare & Food Stamp Recipients

Friday, April 10, 2009 - 6:19pm

Another controversial bill for the Louisiana lawmaker who wanted to pay poor women to get their tubes tied. As our Kianga Kelley explains, this time he’s taking aim at the welfare system.

New Orleans Representative John Labruzzo is on a mission to not only save the use of tax dollars, but to save the lives of those who might have a drug problem. Labruzzo filed a bill to drug-test welfare and food stamp recipients last month. “If my bill passes, then I can say no one in Louisiana is on drugs because we test everyone, but anyone can say that and they may be right at least for 7 or 3 quarters of the population.”

He’s not alone, 10 other states are pushing for the exact same law. He says many companies are now required to drug-test their employees, so it would only be fair to require the same for those seeking assistance. “It only respects them and the hard work that they do is to make sure that we’re not giving their tax dollars to people who can’t pass a drug test.”

Costing taxpayers $3-4, Labruzzo says the test will help identify and diagnose those who might have a problem. “If we don’t do that you have the potential of having somebody who’s on welfare or generations because there’s an underlining we didn’t know anything about.”

Labruzzo also wants to ban any person convicted of a drug crime from receiving assistance for ten years after getting out of jail, before being eligible for welfare benefits. While there are some who may agree with the idea, others say the bill is an attempt to incriminate poverty. Lawmakers will make their final decision on the controversial proposal later this spring.

If the bill passes, Labruzzo says his goal is to create a program to help those who might fail their drug test.