Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Virginia Progressive Caucus Statement On Drug Testing Bills

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                  Contact: Nicholas Kessler, 804-381-6647
January 24, 2012                                                                                    vaprogressivecaucus@gmail.com

Testing Welfare Recipients For Drug Use Is "Unconscionable"

Richmond - This morning, the House Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions (HWI) voted to report out of committee a series of Republican-sponsored bills that would mandate testing welfare recipients for drug use. The bills are HB 955, sponsored by Del. Robert Bell (R-Albemarle); HB 598, sponsored by Del. Anne Crockett-Stark (R-Wythe) and Del. Todd Gilbert (R-Page); HB 249, sponsored by Del. Ben Cline (R-Lexington) and Del. James Edmunds (R-Halifax); and HB 221, sponsored by Del. Christopher Head (R-Roanoke); and all were incorporated into HB 73, sponsored by Del. Richard Bell (R-Staunton), which passed HWI on a partisan vote. All Democrats on the committee voted in opposition and the Progressive Caucus strongly opposes these bills.

Delegate Patrick Hope (D-Arlington), co-Chairman of the Progressive Caucus, said, "Republicans continue to overreach and impose their social agenda on Virginians. We are targeting people just because they are poor and for no other reason."

Delegate David Englin (D-Alexandria), co-founder of the Progressive Caucus, said, "Americans do not give up their Constitutional rights merely because they are poor, yet these bills would allow the government to perform the most invasive search possible with no probable cause. This flies in the face of the Constitution."

Delegate Joe Morrissey (D-Henrico) said, "It is unconscionable that the majority party would introduce legislation to test all poor people seeking benefits without the slightest evidence that a poor citizen is using drugs. Studies show that 98 percent of recipients are drug free. It is more than ironic that the Republican Party which argues for less government intrusion into our lives would endorse a bill that allows the government to draw your blood without any indicia of drug use or other illegal activity."