Apr 7, 2010 1:49 PM by Melissa Canone
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - An attempt to require drug testing of
welfare recipients is headed to review by the same House committee
that rejected the idea last year.
The House Health and Welfare Committee refused Wednesday to vote
on the bill and instead suggested it should be sent to the House
Appropriations Committee, which deals with budget matters and
killed the measure in 2009.
Rep. John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie, said his proposal (House Bill
611) could help families get addiction treatment and make sure tax
dollars aren't spent on drug habits.
"We need to try to do something to help people who need the
help, and secondly, we need to honor the taxpayers of Louisiana who
are footing the bill for this. This money doesn't just come out of
the air," LaBruzzo said.
LaBruzzo's bill would mandate that people who receive benefits
from the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program, known as
FITAP, submit to drug testing to receive benefits. Those who test
positive for drugs would have to receive treatment or lose their
Opponents argued the bill unfairly singles out poor mothers,
without evidence demonstrating they are more prone to drug problems
than college students who receive free tuition from the state, for
example. They also questioned whether the state can afford the
cost. The Department of Social Services estimates the price tag at
more than $520,000 annually.
Current law already requires a program for drug screening of