published Monday, May 7th, 2012

Gov. Bill Haslam expects to sign bill for drug testing some welfare applicants

NASHVILLE — Gov. Bill Haslam’s press secretary says the governor plans to sign legislation requiring drug testing for some welfare applicants, despite calls from the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee to veto the measure.

“The governor is expected to sign the bill,” Alex Poe said in an email.

She said state Department of Human Services officials “will work on the rules to implement the law and will work with the Attorney General who will have to approve them.

“There is still a lot of work to be done,” Poe added.

ACLU-Tennessee Executive Director Hedy Weinberg sent a letter last week to Haslam, a Republican, to veto the GOP-sponsored bill, which mandates “suspicion-based” drug testing for applicants for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families if they fail a psychological screening test.

It raises “serious constitution concerns,” the ACLU contends.

“This bill is the latest in a series of attacks the legislature has waged on civil liberties this session,” Weinberg said in a news release. “Presuming that ... applicants are more likely to use drugs than scholarship applicants, farmers, legislators or anyone else receiving government funds is not only an insulting stereotype contradicted by actual research, it’s constitutionally suspect.”

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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