By Mechelle Hankerson
Capital News Service
RICHMOND – If some state lawmakers have their way, Virginians seeking social service benefits may have to submit to mandatory drug tests before receiving public assistance.
A House subcommittee has rolled several similar proposals into House Bill 73, which is sponsored by Delegate Dickie Bell, R-Staunton. It would allow local social services departments to conduct drug tests if they have “probable cause” before allowing an applicant to receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
Prospective clients who do not pass the mandated drug test would be ineligible for TANF benefits for a year.
The TANF program helps pay for family expenses, with the goal that families gradually become financially independent.
Besides Bell’s legislation, four other House bills proposed drug testing for social service recipients: HB 955, by Delegate Robert Bell, R-Charlottesville; HB 249, by Delegate Benjamin Cline, R-Amherst; HB 598, by Delegate Anne Crockett-Stark, R-Wytheville; and HB 221, by Delegate Chris Head, R-Roanoke.
Last week, the health and human resources subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee combined all of the bills into HB 73.