Welfare Drug Test Veto Overridden By North Carolina GOP, Gov Fights Back

North Carolina Republicans Override Welfare Drug Test Veto

The North Carolina GOP is having a big fight over making poor people pee in cups.

First, Republicans in the state legislature, with some Democratic support, passed a bill requiring drug tests for some people seeking benefits from the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, commonly known as welfare. Then Gov. Pat McCrory (R) vetoed the bill, calling it a bad way to fight drug abuse. On Wednesday, Republicans in the statehouse voted to override McCrory's veto, but the first-term governor still won't cooperate.

"Based upon the lawmakers’ vote on drug testing," McCrory said on his website Wednesday, "the executive branch will not take any action on the new law’s implementation until sufficient funds with this unfunded mandate are provided, not only for the Department of Health and Human Services, but also the funding for consistent application across all 100 counties."

At the time of his veto in August, McCrory had said the bill was "not a smart way to combat drug abuse" and also that parts of the measure were fiscally irresponsible and difficult to implement.

State Rep. Dean Arp (R-Union), a sponsor of the drug testing bill, said Wednesday that the purpose of the bill wasn't to fight drug abuse but rather "to end a bad practice of supporting active drug abusers with the hard-earned money of law-abiding North Carolinians."

McCrory had also said he didn't want to repeat mistakes made in other states that have tried the policy. "Similar efforts in other states have proved to be expensive for taxpayers and did little to actually help fight drug addiction."

In Florida in 2011, welfare drug testing seemed to cost more than it saved. Utah saw similar results this year with a drug testing scheme that yielded only 12 positive test results.

"Forcing people in need to pay up front for urine tests is not only cruel but will likely deter many low-income families from even applying for assistance," Sarah Preston of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina said in a press release on Wednesday. "Why the legislature was so adamant about passing this bill is unclear, since all available evidence shows that public aid applicants are no more likely to use drugs than the general public, and similar programs in other states have been found to be unconstitutional and fiscally wasteful."

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