Drug testing welfare applicants stalls in Senate

Alabama State Capitol
(Associated Press File Photo)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Legislation to require drug testing for some welfare applicants stalled in the Alabama Senate on Tuesday but will be back up for debate on Wednesday.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh of Anniston got the Senate to adjourn Tuesday afternoon after some Democrats began fighting a Republican-backed bill affecting Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Trip Pittman of Daphne, would require drug testing of any welfare applicant with a drug conviction in the past five years. It would have cut off benefits after three failed tests.

Pittman acknowledges that he tried marijuana as a young man. He said his bill “is an attempt to get people to get off drugs” and to show taxpayers that the state government is being responsible with public assistance.

His bill was the first of five Republican-sponsored proposals on the Senate’s work agenda that would tighten regulations for public assistance. Democratic Sen. Hank Sanders of Selma called the bills “an attack on the least of these.”

Marsh said he moved for adjournment because some Republican senators wanted to offer amendments to some of the bills, but the amendments hadn’t been discussed with fellow Republicans. He said Republicans would work on the bills and they would be back on the Senate’s agenda Wednesday.

Democratic Sen. Bobby Singleton of Greensboro said the Senate adjourned because Republicans lacked enough votes to cut off debate by Democrats and pass the bills.

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