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Bill to require drug testing, background checks for welfare recipients advances

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — A bill requiring drug tests for some welfare recipients and a risk of arrest for others, has passed both chambers of the General Assembly and will soon go to Governor Pat McCrory.

House Bill 392 would require the Department of Social Services to notify law enforcement if an applicant for assistance is wanted on a felony warrant or is violating probation. It would also require applicants for the Work First program to pass a urinalysis test.

The bill is designed to stop wanted criminals and drug users from getting state assistance.

Reverend Mike Aiken at Greensboro’s Urban Ministries says it lacks compassion.

“A war on poverty shouldn’t mean a war on the poor,” Aiken said,

Urban Ministries helps 40,000 people a year, including the service of 500 to 600 meals a day. Aiken believes making it tougher for any of the people he serves to get assistance, will only hurt people that are already down.

“You have to look at this law as a continuation of the other legislation that’s been passed,” Aiken said.

The General Assembly passed a¬†law in February¬†reducing unemployment and resulting in the end of federal emergency unemployment. The law took effect July 1, and Aiken said he’s seen a spike in needy folks coming through his doors.

“We’re seeing people really hurting, and they’re being kicked in the pants by a lot of the legislation that’s taken place,” Aiken said.