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ACLU of W.Va. opposes drug testing welfare recipients

Organization has serious constitutional concerns with SB 6

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia Senate Bill 6, also known as the “Welfare Drug Testing Act,” passed the House today and returns to the Senate for concurrence on amendments added in the West Virginia House Judiciary Committee.


This legislation would require all TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) applicants to submit to a drug screen, the details of which are undefined in the bill.  If the DHHR worker finds, based upon the screen, that the applicant has a “reasonable suspicion” of drug use, then the applicant must submit to a drug urinalysis test.  This process raises serious constitutional concerns under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article III, Section 6 of the West Virginia Constituion.


The following statements can be attributed to Jennifer Meinig, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia, a non-partisan statewide organization dedicated to assuring the Bill of Rights and rights guaranteed by the Constitution are preserved for each new generation:


“We are disappointed that the House passed SB 6. The legislation is based on false stereotypes and a political agenda that distracts us from the true causes of our state’s fiscal insolvency, and instead lays unsubstantiated blame on the poor by implying their misuse of limited government assistance on illegal drugs.


This bill raises serious constitutional concerns and will waste precious taxpayer dollars to address an unsubstantiated problem by implementing a “solution” that has been shown to increase costs.


We don’t ask anyone else to sacrifice their Fourth Amendment rights to receive government benefits. Almost all of us receive government assistance in one form or another, yet we don’t treat veterans, seniors or the disabled — or even our elected officials — as suspected drug users and force them to prove their innocence.


If the Senate concurs in the House changes, we look to the Governor, where we hope he will make right this wrong and veto this constitutionally suspect legislation.”



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