Bill to drug test welfare applicants advances

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- A proposal to drug test people as a condition to receive welfare is headed for a vote on the Senate floor.

The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Stacey Campfield of Knoxville was approved 8-3 in the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday.

Campfield's proposal differs from original legislation that the state's attorney general opined was constitutionally suspect. That measure would have drug tested applicants who had been convicted of using drugs within five years.

The opinion said that approach would violate the constitutional rights of applicants who have a right not to be drug tested unless there is suspicion that they are taking illicit drugs.

Under the amended version, new applicants would undergo a special screening process. If suspicion is raised after the screening, then the applicant would be drug tested.

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