A state House panel advanced legislation Tuesday morning that would require the annual drug testing of 20 percent of Louisiana’s adult welfare recipients, who would be chosen randomly.
The House Health and Welfare Committee voted 11-5 to send the measure by state Rep. Sherman Mack, R-Albany, to the House for further debate.
Opponents said the state already has a drug screening program that’s working and that the drug testing would violate the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution dealing with illegal search and seizure.
House Bill 380 would require those applying for cash assistance through the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program to agree to random testing in order to be eligible for the benefit. If the drug tests finds the welfare recipient abuses illegal drugs, the individual would have to undergo treatment at their own expense in order to continue to get benefits, according to the bill. Benefits could be halted if treatment was not sought.
HB380 would impact 3,035 adults, according to Sammy Guillory, deputy assistant secretary at the state Department Children and Family Services.
“This is not about benefits being taken away from people. It’s about identifying problems,” said Mack. “All you have to do is go to treatment … This ill is not about hurting people.”