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ACLU-NC statement on override of drug testing bill veto
Civil liberties group says H.B. 392 does nothing to address substance abuse and will deter many families in need from seeking assistance 

RALEIGH – The North Carolina Senate today voted to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of H.B. 392, a bill that requires some applicants to the state’s Work First program for needy families to pay up front for and submit to drug tests as a precondition of aid. The state House voted to override the veto yesterday, meaning H.B. 392 will now become law.

In announcing his veto, Gov. McCrory called H.B. 392 “a recipe for government overreach and unnecessary government intrusion … that is not a smart way to combat drug abuse.”

Sarah Preston, Policy Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC), which strongly opposed the bill and urged the legislature to sustain the governor’s veto, released the following statement:

“It’s very disappointing that the legislature put so much effort into passing this cruel and constitutionally suspect bill. Read More

Drug testingThe General Assembly returns to Raleigh on Tuesday to decide whether to override or sustain Governor McCrory’s veto of House Bill 392, the controversial and costly proposal to drug test public assistance recipients and applicants.

In announcing his veto of HB 392 on August 15th, the Governor said: “Similar efforts in other states have proved to be expensive and ineffective at catching drug abusers. It makes no sense to repeat those mistakes in North Carolina.” Advocates for poor people agree. As argued last night in an email alert distributed by my colleague Jeff Shaw at the NC Justice Center:

  • HB 392 shifts the focus from treatment to testing. Research shows that differences in the proportion of public assistance and non-public assistance recipients using illegal drugs are statistically insignificant. However, for those Read More

The ACLU of North Carolina sent a letter to its members and suporters today asking them to urge their state representatives and senators to uphold Gov. McCrory’s veto of controversial drug testing legislation. This is from the letter:

“In announcing his veto, Gov. McCrory called H.B. 392 ‘a recipe for government overreach and unnecessary government intrusion … that is not a smart way to combat drug abuse.’ We agree.

H.B. 392 does nothing to rehabilitate people who test positive for drugs. But it would open the door to costly and unnecessary government intrusions into the physical privacy of North Carolinians who need public assistance to care for their families. It would also force people in need to pay up front for their urine test, likely deterring many families from even applying.

Our state and federal constitutions protect the privacy and dignity of all North Carolinians against unreasonable searches, and all available evidence has shown that welfare applicants are no more likely to use drugs than the general public. Forcing North Carolinians who need public assistance to care for their families to pay up front for an invasive test without reasonable suspicion of drug use would be cruel, costly, and constitutionally suspect.”

The General Assembly is scheduled to reconvene next Tuesday September 3 to consider the veto.

In case you missed it, civil rights groups have applauded the Governor’s decision to veto legislation that would have imposed a mandatory drug testing regimen on applicants for public assistance.

This is from the ACLU of NC:

“North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory today vetoed H.B. 392, a measure that would have required applicants to the state’s Work First program to submit to costly and invasive drug tests. Gov. McCrory called the measure ‘a recipe for government overreach and unnecessary government intrusion’ that ‘is not a smart way to combat drug abuse.’

Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, released the following statement:

‘We applaud the governor’s veto of a measure that would have opened the door to costly and unnecessary government intrusions into the physical privacy of North Carolinians who need public assistance to care for their families. Our state and federal constitutions protect the privacy and dignity of all North Carolinians against unreasonable searches, and all available evidence has shown that welfare applicants are no more likely to use drugs than the general public. In fact, the evidence suggests that their rate of drug use is lower than that of the general public. Forcing people in need to pay up front for an invasive test without reasonable suspicion of drug use would have been cruel, costly, and constitutionally suspect. We are very pleased the governor has rejected this measure.’ Read More

Kevin Rogers, an attorney with Action NC, has an excellent opinion piece in today’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer:

“For all the trouble they caused this session, N.C. General Assembly leaders lacked a certain amount of inventiveness.

Almost every bill they introduced was already being considered, or was law, somewhere else.Case in point, during the final hours in Raleigh, the General Assembly passed a foolish bill requiring those applying for public assistance to pass a drug test before they can become eligible. This unconstitutional idea has been tried before in other states, and it makes no more sense here than it did when it was first implemented, and failed miserably, in Florida. Read More