Senator Sponsoring Bill To Drug Test All Residents Receiving State Assistance

| by Matiss Batarags

A Vermont bill proposing random drug tests for residents on public assistance is still being considered by lawmakers. The bill is co-sponsored by Republican Senator Norm McAllister.

If passed, Senate Bill 120 would require drug tests for anyone on public assistance who is suspected of illegal drug use.

“We want to take care of our people, but we also don't want to support a habit,” said McAllister.

He continued, “I've had a lot of constituents ask why we aren't doing this. They're seeing the problem obviously.”

While the bill is widely supported by Republican lawmakers, the opposition has been equally as fierce. Many say that this law would simply make life harder on those who already find themselves in a rut.

Christopher Curtis, a Vermont Legal Aid attorney, recently argued this much.

“It's going to assume that people are guilty of a crime before they've committed it or maybe in fact when they haven't done anything at all,” he said.

New York lawmakers have proposed a similar bill, but many other proposed laws like this one have failed in other states. West Virginia and Arizona recently both abandoned similar laws when drastically less money was saved than had been promised.

Arizona’s lawmakers had estimated that drug testing would save the state about $1.7 million. However, only $4,000 were saved because of the law.

A Florida law that required a drug test while applying for welfare was also deemed unconstitutional. With many states having failed, the opposition to Vermont’s bill has been stout.

McAllister knows the national backlash will not be kind to Vermont’s bill, but still wants it to be passed in his state. 

“Are we really helping people?" he asked. "Or are we just enabling people to keep the same practices that got them, maybe, where some of them are?”

Sources: WPTZ / Photo Source: Vimeo