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When North Carolina lawmakers passed a law last year mandating drug testing of public benefit recipients modeled (at least in part) on a law in Florida, civil liberties and anti-poverty advocates told them it was a bad and unconstitutional idea.

Today those advocates are feeling some vindication as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1tth Circuit stuck down Florida’s law. This is from the New York Times story:

The three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, ruled that the law, one of the strictest in the country, was an unreasonable search because Florida officials had failed to show a “substantial need” to test all people who applied for welfare benefits. Applicants were required to submit to urine tests, a measure that Mr. Scott said would protect children of welfare applicants by ensuring that their parents were not buying and using drugs.

“The state has not demonstrated a more prevalent, unique or different drug problem among TANF applicants than in the general population,” the panel said in its unanimous decision, using an acronym for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

North Carolina’s law is not identical, but the same basic logic ought to apply: If we’re going to start doing forced bodily searches of welfare recipients, there’s no logical reason the state shouldn’t be able to mandate such tests for all recipients of public benefits — from college students to Social Security beneficiaries.

let’s hope this decision heralds th beginning of the end for such invasive and ill-conceived programs.

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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

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Gov. McCrory intimated during his press conference last week that he would consider vetoing legislation passed during the waning days of session that would require drug tests for public assistance applicants. Today, a trio of civil rights groups will provide him with all the ammunition he needs to do just that.

In a letter emailed yesterday and to be hand-delivered today, the ACLU of North Carolina, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and the North Carolina Justice Center told the Governor that the controversial proposal “wastes State resources and infringes on the constitutional rights of those on public assistance.”

This is from the letter: Read More

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As you can see below, the good people at Action NC are speaking up and out against the General Assembly’s plan to make applicants for Work First assistance to take drug tests before they can obtain the pittance in benefits that the program provides.

Send the NCGA a Pee Cup

The North Carolina Senate has passed a bill requiring applicants of the welfare program known as WorkFirst  to first pay for, and then pass, a drug test before enrolling in the program.

cup1.gifThis bill is not law yet. With your help, we can send a strong message to our lawmakers.

You can send a pee cup to your State Senator with a small $8 donation to Action NC.

We will tell NC General Assembly that if they are going to require drug tests for North Carolina residents, then they should pee first. Read More

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Just released:sb594

Mandatory drug testing of Work First applicants, recipients would be costly, ineffective, and likely illegal
New report finds universal drug testing could cost North Carolina as much as $2.3 million

RALEIGH (April 22, 2013) — North Carolina lawmakers are currently pursuing legislation that would require mandatory drug testing of all Work First applicants and recipients. Such actions would be costly, likely illegal, and ineffective at identifying and treating drug abuse, a new report finds.

North Carolina’s Work First program assists extremely low-income families in getting on the path to self-sufficiency. Suspicionless mandatory drug testing for Work First families, as proposed by Senate Bill 594, would place additional financial burdens on struggling families who receive assistance, not to mention the whole of North Carolina, according to a new report from the North Carolina Justice Center. Read More