Drug Tests Could Soon Be Required For Welfare Recipients

Knoxville (WVLT)- In Nashville, two bills are moving through the state legislature that are stirring some controversy in East Tennessee.

Senate Bill 102 implements drug testing for welfare recipients. DHS and TennCare are saying that proposal violates federal law. House Bill 981 makes it impossible for folks receiving government assistance to claim lottery winnings. Volunteer TV set out to see whether or not you support the proposals.

"They should use government-assisted funding for survival needs: home, rent, food, clothing, things of that nature," Benji Clemmer says.

Not lottery tickets, and certainly not drugs...that's what Senator Tim Burchett and Representative Stacey Campfield are saying.

"If you're too poor to pay for food... basic, bare necessities, then you're not eligible to win grand jackpot prizes," Campfield says.

House Bill 981 says any person collecting government assistance is not entitled to collect lottery winnings.

"You shouldn't be spending your money in lottery tickets expecting that to help pay your bills," Campfield continues.

Taxpayers agree...

"If they are getting state assistance, I feel like they should actually have to report it as some sort, and have to pay the money back," Bob Robinson says.

Now, any prize over $600 has to be mailed into the state... under 981, it would be checked against a database of people on government assistance... and if you're on the list, you aren't eligible for the prize. Some say it's not fair.

"Those are the people who need it the most, so if they choose to spend it that way, I think it's ok to do that," Johnny Serana says.

Senate Bill 102 mandates drug tests for welfare recipients. Senator Tim Burchett supports the bill, saying the current law precedents it.

"We test our athletes, our college athletes and they, of course, are using tax dollars. We test them for drugs. If they test positive, they can be removed from the team and possibly school," Burchett says.

"If we get randomly drug tested for employment, why shouldn't they get randomly drug tested for welfare? It's taxpayers who are paying the welfare," Stella Jacobus says.

Burchett says law enforcement agencies tell him a large majority of their drug busts are people on welfare.

"It limits their ambition and they wanna sit home and smoke pot and not get a job and you and I are paying for them do to that," Burchett says.

Burhett's Senate Bill 102 will be heard before the Senate General Welfare Committee Wednesday. Campfield's House Bill 981 is still waiting to come into committee.


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  • by Poed on Sep 1, 2011 at 03:41 PM
    What about those people who sell their food stamps and babies milk they received from wic to pay for cigs and booze. They are doing that too. As long as the taxpayers don't have to pay for it, go for it. The government waste so much money on stupid things, it's about time somebody comes up with some better ideas.
  • by Janie Location: Tennessee on Sep 1, 2011 at 03:14 PM
    It's about time...I'm so tired of seeing the working folk struggle in this economy trying to take care of their families and some people on tenncare taking advantage of the system. Everyone on government help should be drug tested. If your not doing anything wrong you shouldn't mind. I never understood how someone on drugs can get assistance so easily. Come and check out Hardin county Tennessee if you don't believe me. Not only should they Not be able to collect lottery winnings, they should be drug tested,and don't be stupid and warn them a week ahead but also if they have a criminal record they shouldn't be able to collect also.
  • by angry tax payer Location: knoxville, tn on Jan 26, 2011 at 11:52 PM
    I agree and i hope the bill pass. It upsets me that i work 7 days a week and cant get help, not only that, i take care of a child that is not mine and i cant get help, when i tried to apply for daycare assistance, i was turned down because the child isn't kin to me but, im saving the state over a thousand, or more dollars a month by keeping this child out of foster care, im mad and angry and if anyone knows who i can talk to please get in touch. Im tired of supporting people who update there status on facebook all day, get all the benefits without having to work and party all the time. This is what me and others i know that work hard pay for and its not right!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • by NAncy Location: Ohio on Jan 26, 2011 at 03:57 PM
    I think that those on welfare should have to submit to random drug testing. If I as a responsible law abiding individual have to pass a drug test for employment and my daughter who is in the military can be drug tested why not test those that are on the public dole. If we made being drug free a prereq. for receiving federal funds then perhaps we would have less folks trying to take advantage of the system and think how much better it would be for their children. I know a pediatrician that accepts a lot of Medicaid and there are a high percentage of Mothers that bring in their children and it is obvious that they are on something. Let's do it for the children if nothing else.

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