North Carolina House legislators have approved a bill that will institute mandatory background checks for benefits recipients. The measure, passed by a 106-6 margin, comes just days after Texas lawmakers enacted a similar regulation.
The North Carolina bill passed last week requires all social services employees to perform background checks to screen welfare and food stamp applicants with outstanding arrest warrants and other active violations. Social services employees would have to report applicants to law enforcement.
The bill, proposed by Republican Dean Arp, now moves to the State Senate. Arp admitted that federal laws already prohibit those wanted on felony laws from receiving public assistance. Democrats in the House reportedly expressed concern that the measure would add stress on social services employees and unduly characterize the poor in a negative light.
Earlier this week the Texas Senate passed a bill that will force drug tests on welfare recipients, who are provided with money for food, housing, and other basic needs. The current program spends about $90 million on 100,000 Texans annually, with the bill’s sponsor saying that the money “should not be used to support a drug habit.”
Drug testing for welfare applicants and recipients
Welfare drug screening legislation is a welcome addition for many, who are justified in claiming that anyone applying for or receiving welfare should not be an exception to the drug screening rules that many employed taxpayers are subjected to.
Nonetheless, there will also always be critics. Some suggest that drug testing welfare recipients is simply not a cost-effective measure and not a valid use of taxpayers dollars – with money saved being only a fraction of that which is spent on the tests. In addition, the ACLU argues drug testing is considered a search under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which protects against unreasonable searches.