POLITICS

Chuck Sims, Georgia Lawmaker Who Supported Welfare Drug Testing, Charged With DUI

A Georgia state lawmaker who supported legislation to drug test welfare recipients was arrested last week, suspected of driving under the influence, Raw Story reports.

Georgia state House Rep. Chuck Sims (R-Ambrose) was pulled over in Coffee County, Ga., on April 2 after being spotted driving erratically by a police officer, the Douglas Enterprise reported. Sims also was cited for DUI in 2010; that DUI charge was later dismissed and he pleaded guilty to reckless driving, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“Just as I do not intend to seek any special treatment, I hope that I am not unfairly pre-judged based on rumor and speculation," Sims said in a statement after being released on bond, the AJC reported. "I am confident that as facts of this situation are revealed, the interests of justice will be served.”

In 2012, Sims joined his GOP colleagues in the Georgia Legislature to pass a bill requiring applicants for welfare benefits to pay for and pass a drug test.

"Commonsense legislation like [this] lets the people of this state know that their legislature is hard at work for them,” said state Rep. Michael Harden (R-Toccoa), the bill's sponsor, upon its passage.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R), a supporter of the welfare requirement, has halted implementation of the law, pending the federal court's ruling on similar legislation in Florida.

In February, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit upheld a lower court's ruling that the Florida statute violated the Constitution's ban on unreasonable searches

"The evidence in this record does not suggest that the population of [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families] recipients engages in illegal drug use or that they misappropriate government funds for drugs at the expense of their own and their children's basic subsistence," the court said. "The State has presented no evidence that simply because an applicant for TANF benefits is having financial problems, he is also drug addicted or prone to fraudulent and neglectful behavior."

TANF is a federal assistance program for poor parents. Dependents on the $16 billion annual program receive monthly checks averaging $392.

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