Rep. Greg Morris (R-Vidalia) talks about the bill he sponsored to allow for drug testing of food stamp recipients Monday evening March 3, 2014 as crossover day stretches into the night. Crossover day is generally the last day for a bill to pass out of the chamber where it originated and still be considered by the other chamber before the end of the Legislative session. BEN GRAY / BGRAY@AJC.COM
Photo: Ben Gray
Photo: Ben Gray

Food stamp, welfare recipients could face drug testing

Food stamp and welfare recipients could have to submit to drug testing if a state caseworker suspected they used drugs under legislation approved by the state House on Monday.

House Bill 772, by Rep. Greg Morris, R-Vidalia, passed 107-66.

The bill was toned down from its original version, which required anyone who receives food stamps to pass a drug test. Morris agreed to the change because of a federal court’s earlier ruling that a similar bill requiring welfare recipients in Florida to take drug tests was unconstitutional. That ruling also scuttled a 2012 law that Georgia lawmakers passed regarding welfare recipients.

HB 772, instead, would require Department of Family and Children Services employees to determine whether there is a “reasonable suspicion” the applicant used drugs. An example, Morris said, would be if someone applying for benefits was fired from a previous job for drug use.

Under questioning from Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, Morris said there would be no requirement that DFCS workers undergo special training to identify drug abuse or to protect an individual’s right against unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment.

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