In April, Georgia’s governor signed a law to require all applicants to the state’s cash assistance program to take a drug test. The law was part of a torrent of similar bills that flooded the country in the last two years, as conservative state legislators elected in 2010 sought to fasten drug testing requirements to safety-net programs. Most of the bills did not become law, but Georgia went all the way and the bill was set to take effect on July 1. Around that day, local press began reporting that welfare applicants had to undergo tests. But on July 3, Gov. Nathan Deal’s office belatedly announced that the law would not go immediately into effect. Rather, the state will await a decision by a federal court of appeals, which has before it a challenge to a nearly identical 2011 Florida law that is blocked pending the court’s ruling. Civil liberties advocates say the governor’s decision is a smart one, considering the state would certainly be sued just like Florida, incurring an expensive legal fight it’s likely to loose. The 11th Circuit is expected to strike down the Florida law on privacy grounds. Yet Florida’s legal battle was already well underway when the Georgia legislature passed its own controversial law and when the governor signed it. Which begs the question: Why go through all of that only to acknowledge the legal dispute in the final hour before the law’s onset? Because Georgia’s drug testing law—like the proposals elsewhere—never had anything to do with making actual public policy.
Georgia’s Political Cudgel Against the Poor: Drug Testing - COLORLINES (via arielnietzsche)

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