San Antonio welfare recipients react to proposed drug testing

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by Brix Fowler / KENS 5

khou.com

Posted on April 11, 2013 at 11:34 PM

SAN ANTONIO -- Welfare recipients in San Antonio seemed to be in favor of a bill that would require welfare applicants to pass a drug test.

The bill covers Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program applicants, and passed through the Senate with a 31-0 vote on Wednesday. Next, it's off to the House.

"Stay clean to get benefits," one welfare recipient said. "I think that with every situation -- you apply for a job -- when you get benefits, there's drug testing involved in most situations now. So I don't see how this should be any different."

Senate Bill 11, sponsored by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) would force those deemed a high-risk to submit a drug test. If they fail once, they would lose their Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits for six months. If they fail three times, they would be kicked out of the program. At no time, though, would their children ever lose those benefits.

It's a bill former San Antonio ACLU president Edward Pina strongly opposes.

"I think it's class warfare if ever I saw it, and a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees citizens will not come under government scrutiny in a criminal sense except under the finding of probable cause by a neutral magistrate," Pina said.

Michelle Pond, another welfare recipient, was also OK with the proposed bill.

"I think that if you're going to go ask for assistance, you're going to go ask for help, that you should be drug tested," she said. "If you're doing drugs, you shouldn't get it."

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