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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

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

 Tommy Tucker 2There are so many reasons that it is a ridiculous idea to require drug tests for all applicants for Work First/Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or “TANF” benefits (as proposed by multiple state senators) that it’s hard to know where to begin.

It would be absurdly expensive. It would likely catch a tiny number of people. It would likely undermine the state’s ongoing successful efforts to help get people with drug abuse problems into treatment. It is also absurdly unfair to pick only on TANF recipients — Why not all college students? Or all legislators? Or all recipients of economic incentive giveaways?

But here’s another and less debatable reason: It’s unconstitutional.  Last month, the Federal Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta unanimously struck down a Florida law that is the basis of the North Carolina proposal.

According to the court: Read More