Welfare drug test bill passes NC Senate

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

GREENSBORO, NC -- Senate Bill 594, which  would require applicants for North Carolina's WorkFirst Program to take and pass a drug test before receiving benefits, passed the state Senate on Monday.

WorkFirst allows adults to get cash benefits for themselves and their children as they look for work. More than 21,000 North Carolinians use the program, and more than 1200 of those are in Guilford County.

Steve Hays, with Guilford County's Department of Social Services, said current law requires a licensed professional to evaluate applicants. That person can ask for a drug test if he or she feels it's necessary.

SB 594 would require the testing up front for all potential recipients, and it would require the applicants to pay for that testing. If the applicant passes, according to the bill, the state would reimburse him or her. If he or she fails, there are no benefits and no reimbursement.

A Guilford County senator proposed an amendment requiring all legislators and their staff members to take and pass drug tests, as well, but that amendment failed.

Now that the bill has passed the Senate, it must pass the House and then be signed by Governor Pat McCrory to become a law.