Lawmakers in Alabama Propose Bill to Drug Test Food Stamp Recipients
A new bill that was introduced by the Alabama House of Representatives would require some Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to undergo drug testing or lose their benefits. Currently, drug tests aren’t required to apply for or to receive food stamps.
House Bill 3 stipulates that anyone who tests positive for a drug they are not prescribed would be ineligible for SNAP benefits upon a second failed drug test and also anyone who refuses or delays the process of the test will also be ineligible.
If the bill is passed, it would go into effect on the first day of the “third month following its passage” and also Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s approval would be required.
The bill has now moved on to the state’s House Judiciary Committee.
Although, nationally, the majority of recipients of SNAP benefits are white, Alabama has a disproportionately higher rate of Blacks who receive food stamps from the state and federal government.
Rep. Tommy Hanes (R-AL) introduced House Bill 3, which would require anyone applying for SNAP benefits to be drug tested if there is reasonable suspicion that the person uses or is under the influence of a drug. But what actually deems a person to fall under suspicion of using illegal drugs? Given the numbers, it seems as of Blacks would suffer immensely if the bill passes.
If the goal is to deny access of basic needs to people who Republicans in Alabama deem aren’t contributing to the well-being of the state, maybe politicians should look at the state’s own national contribution to this country. Alabama ranks almost last in terms of best states in the nation.
Major categories such as infrastructure, education, health care and economy indicate that Alabama contributes very little to national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Now the state wants to “save” money by taking food out of the mouth of residents who need it the most.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that the attempt to punish poor people isn’t cost effective for the state. The mandatory drug tests have to be paid by someone. It has yet to be determined if the recipients would be required to pay for their own tests and then be reimbursed by the state or if the state would just foot the cost upfront.
Federal law prohibits states from imposing their own conditions on food stamp eligibility since SNAP is a federal program. Still, some states have tried to implement some form of drug testing for the food assistance program, so far with little success.