Delegate wants to drug test welfare recipients
Delegate Craig Blair’s (R-Berkeley)latest version of a bill to require drug testing for people getting public assistance triggered floor debate in the House Wednesday and it had not even been formally introduced.
The debate was so intense House Speaker Richard Thompson had to remind members of rules that prohibit naming a colleague during debate. Thompson also reminded House members that the order of business was remarks, not debate.
Delegate Blair began by saying he’s seeking additional sponsors from both parties for the bill. He also made it clear that the bill is a scaled down version of last year’s bill.
“This year this legislation only applies to people on Welfare. It has nothing to do with food stamps. It has nothing to do with unemployment,” said Blair.
“It also includes legislators do drug testing,” Blair said. “We should lead by example.”
Delegate Don Perdue, D-Wayne, was the first of several members to blast the bill.
“I will proudly rise and oppose that legislation with every ounce of my being in my body,” said Perdue. “You can’t turn the war on poverty to the war on the impoverished.”
Delegate John Overington, R-Berkeley, endorsed the bill, insisting the goal is to get people out of poverty.
“Federal employees are drug tested,” Overington pointed out. “Our goal is to get people out of poverty, back on their feet,” he added.
But Delegate Joe Talbott, D-Webster, used his copy of the state constitution to argue Blair’s bill would violate that document.
“I believe the issue is totally unconstitutional,” Talbott said. “I belive this would be unreasonable to have search and seizure of an individual.”
Debate on the still unintroduced legislation lasted nearly half an hour.
Feb. 11, 2010
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
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