Virginia Kills Bill Mandating Drug Testing For Welfare Recipients

Virginians got another small victory this week as the General Assembly killed a bill that would require drug screening for all welfare recipients.

Drug testing for welfare recipients is very popular among social conservatives, despite the extraordinary costs states must assume to administer such programs and despite the fact that they do nothing to prevent welfare fraud. The fact that the bill died in the more conservative General Assembly, as opposed to the state Senate was a surprise, especially because the Senate version of the bill had narrowly made it out of the chamber with a 21-20 vote thanks to the tie-breaking Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R).

Conservatives might finally be getting that message as the reason the bill died in the Assembly was a concern for cost. The House Appropriations Committee voted to study the bill after cost estimates came in at $1.3 million out of the general fund in the first year and about $1 million annually after that to administer the program.

The bills, while slightly different in each chamber, would have required that local social services departments screen people receiving benefits to determine if there was a reason to believe that person was using illegal substances. If so, a formal drug test would be administered and a potential recipient must pass before benefits could be collected.

If there’s a silver lining to take from the Virginia legislative session so far it is that the Republican’s most outrageous attacks on the poor failed. That said, given how close the vote on this measure we can expect to see it come up again next year unless the voters of Virginia send a clear message that these kinds of attacks are unwarranted and unacceptable.

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Photo from pedrosimoes7 via flickr.


Nancy L.
Nancy L6 years ago

I don't want my taxpayer money going to people who use their welfare money for drugs. I've seen it happen - getting that precious welfare check to buy more crack instead of food for their kids.

Beryl S.
Beryl Sanders6 years ago

In Canada, people cannot receive welfare benefits unless they have a fixed address. I think it would be a really good idea if welfare recipients were being tested for alcohol and drug abuse and the cost of this testing would save millins for the Government subsidized recipents. I work in an Emergency Department in a Hospital here in Canada and I see first hand every day...welfare recipients that are sop wired on alcohol and drugs that come into Emergency for a place to sleep and to get a dose of drugs to stop their tremors and erratic behavior...there is something wrong with thispicture don't you think??? Many of welfare recipients are people that are fully capable of getting a job, paying taxes and being healthy members of society...their lifestyle is their choice and I really don't agree with the Governments providing a living for these people....welfare recipients are just another expense that is draining money from the Government and being a nuisance to society.

Gary Ansorge
Gary Ansorge6 years ago

Jessie R.

You really have no idea how large is the underground economy. A great many druggies are self employed. There are plenty who are rich(of course, the rich can afford the very best drugs). In the great Florida experiment, they found less than two percent of the welfare population tested positive(mainly for that least toxic of drugs, pot),,,and it cost the state many times more for all this testing than the amount saved by disallowing benefits.

These tests are all for political advantage and have nothing to do with either being cost effective or discouraging drug use. Those people inclined to illegal drug use will just use drugs that are more dangerous and less detectable.

Jessie R.
Susan Zitzler6 years ago

Make it simple and easy like a pregnancy test, just pee on a stick for everyone like they do in a lot of companies now, you get drug tested before they will even think of hiring you. All for one and one for all, let it be universal and the drugs will stop. No job if you do drugs, no money for drugs if there is no job. As for welfare, there is very little to live on anyhow so how can anyone even think they can afford drugs instead of even just food is beyond me. I think the food stamp system should have a change to "include" paper products and things like necessities ---soap, shampoo, toilet paper, laundry soap, dish soap,female necessities, kleenx even. You had to sell you stamps before when they came in a book to get cash to buy these items. Now imagine with the "card" you just buy something and then return it so you get cash to buy these non-food items. Come up to date on food stamp system and a pee stick for all.

Leslea Herber
Leslea Herber6 years ago

Here's a hint. If you want drug testing of welfare recipients, then FIRST DEMAND drug testing of your politicians. THEN demand drug testing of all board members of companies that get tax breaks. Can't be supporting drug use in INDUSTRY now. Then have yourself drug tested.

If it's good for the poor, who CANNOT AFFORD the drugs, then it's FINE & DANDY for everyone else too!

Do you demand COPS be drug tested? WHY NOT? What about fire fighters? Ambulance attendants? Doctors, lawyers, judges, teachers, ALL public servants? They get "your tax dime" too... WHY the HELL don't you cry "TEST THEM" when they're the target?

OH YEAH. Because people who only demand it of the poor, are hypocritical assholes.

Pat H.
Pat H.6 years ago

There is drug testing for jobs, why not for welfare recipients. They are getting MY money, I should be able to know it is not going to somebody using drugs.

Tamara H.
Tamara H6 years ago

I don't advocate the drug testing, but I do advocate limits on what the benefits can be used for. If you use my money, I get some say on what you use it for. If you don't like that then don't ask for it.

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L6 years ago


OmegaForPrez now
OmegaForPrez now6 years ago

Sue J., I personally know of two families who are on welfare and neither of which wants to get off of it. One family is a woman and her 3 kids. Besides getting child support from the father, she is attending nursing college, on my tax payer money. I had to take financial aid and pay off student loans even as far as 6 years after I graduated because I had a loan and a miserable job. This woman, is getting a free ride to college. How come welfare people can get free college and those who work hard for it don't.

The other family is a married woman with 5 kids. She wanted 6 kids but her health wouldn't let her. So, her husband, who is in the army, doesn't get paid enough to let them survive so she lives with her parents. So, you have a woman, with 5 kids, getting child support because 2 kids are another father's and getting army salary money in and she doesn't have to pay a dime for room and board. You know what she spends her welfare money on? Weekly hair colorings and pedicures. The kids get spoiled because they live at their grandparents, but if this family doesn't need the money for what they need, then why do they get it. The woman, the mother, likes having money come in for nothing. She has been on welfare for about 5 years now, straight.

Drug testing for welfare people is no big deal. What they need to do is hire about 1 million of these people without a job, to go and investigate some of these welfare people and see what they are using the money on.

Liz Edwards
Joan Edwards6 years ago

Problem is: a lot of the people on welfare don't see a way out. They are trapped. They need help not condemnation. People who have not lived the life should shut the fk up. Even the idiot who tried to live the life of, for a month, said how bad it was, and he only saw the tip of the ice berg. Try being born and raised on welfare with no future in site. And then there's all those that have lost all their jobs so that the CEOs etal can make even more money. That in itself is a story! Try dealing with real life and see how many anti-depressants you take.