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Georgia welfare drug testing law supported by bad research

New data from Florida's state government shows that the original research used to implement a law requiring adults requesting welfare assistance to undergo drug testing was incorrect, after Georgia already used the information to put the law in place as well.

Georgia welfare drug testing lawEnlarge
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed a measure requiring welfare applicants to be tested for drugs prior to receiving benefits. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

New data from Florida's state government shows that the original research used to implement a law requiring adults requesting welfare assistance to undergo drug testing was incorrect, after Georgia already used the information to put the law in place as well.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal (R) signed the measure last Monday, which will put the law into effect on July 1, reported Reuters. Social Responsibility and Accountability Act supporters said the law was created to ensure welfare payments — also called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families — are not "diverted to illicit drug use." The law will not affect benefits for children, as they can still be received through another person other than the parent who failed the drug test.

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In a statement released on the government of Georgia's website, Deal's office referred to Florida's recent experience with the law in order to justify its decision: "Florida passed similar legislation back in 2010 decreasing their welfare applicant pool by 48 percent and saving their state $1.8 million."

But new data from Florida's government now indicates the law has had no significant effect on any element of the state's welfare system. Drug testing people seeking welfare benefits has caught very few drug users, has had no effect on the number of welfare applications, and has not saved the government any money, according to The New York Times.

Reuters also reported that the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia opposed the new law, saying it is unconstitutional, since there is no proof that welfare recipients are any more likely than other groups to use illegal drugs.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120423/georgia-welfare-drug-testing-law-supported-bad-research