MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The push is back on to make drug tests a requirement for getting food stamps in Tennessee. The Tennessee Attorney General shot down a similar proposal a few weeks ago, after raising questions about if it was constitutional.
"Oh my god, I'd be starved to death because my job don't pay me enough," said Demetrius Butts, who says he relies on welfare to survive.
"I am trying to work 2 jobs so I can get off stamps, but I really need it right now," said Butts.
Butts doesn't think it is fair to test new welfare applicants, especially since unlike an earlier proposal, this one would not require lawmakers to undergo the same tests.
"Just to single out people just to do that, I don't think that's fair," he said.
Under the proposal, new applicants would have to go through a special screening process. After that, if there were questions, the person could face a drug test.
"If we are going to write a check from the taxpayer's pocketbook we also have to understand where the money is going; we know there is a lot of fraud." said Mark Skoda, radio host of "The Mark Skoda Show".
Florida currently has a similar law on the books. A new report found in the first year, only 108 out of more than 4,000 failed, and the state lost money conducting all those drug tests.
As it stands now, those who failed a test would either undergo drug treatment or lose their benefits for six months. The penalty would increase to a year for three failed tests.
If it passes, the plan would be to start a pilot program next year and roll it out statewide in 2014.