Welfare bill stalls in Alabama Legislature

Published 02/26 2014 06:39PM

Updated 02/26 2014 09:42PM

Efforts to pass a welfare drug testing bill have stalled in the State Senate.


Debate was shut down late yesterday and the whole thing is drawing strong reaction from both sides of the aisle.


And it's not just senators divided over the issue.  Voters we spoke with today don't agree on whether this proposal is a good idea.


"If you require them to be drug tested, everyone should be required to be drug tested," said Samson resident Earl Jordan.


"Every person deserves a chance, and some people make mistakes and some people change," Dothan resident Eddie Corbett said.


"Anybody that gets any form of assistance from the government should be tested, to make sure that they're using the money for what they should be using it for," said Ray Morgan, another Dothan resident.


Some of the local reaction to a bill that would require public assistance applicants to pass a drug test.


"The legislation takes the individuals who are on public assistance and provides them with an opportunity to take a drug test to verify that their utilization of those moneys or resources that are being provided for them are going for their families or for themselves because they are in need of public assistance," said Senator Jimmy Holley (AL-R, Elba).


The bill requires drug tests for applicants if they've had a drug conviction in the last five years.


If a person tests positive, they get a warning for the first offense.


For the second offense, the person will lose temporary cash benefits for a year. 


And a third failed test would make them permanently ineligible for benefits.


But the bill didn't pass in the Senate yesterday,


"The delays took place yesterday because there's individuals that took difference to that and don't want the drug testing obviously,” Holley said.


Opponents are against the idea because the bill only targets people on welfare.


The next step is for the bill to be put on a special calendar for another debate.


Some voters say the legislature needs to get past the partisan gridlock. 


"I think the Republicans and Democrats need to get their heads together and both work together and get this thing worked out for us, because we're in trouble," Dothan resident Bobby Mauldin said.


The State Senate is also reviewing four other welfare bills, including one that would keep people from using welfare money to buy alcohol, tobacco or lottery tickets. 


Another would require applicants to apply for three jobs before qualifying for benefits.


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