Bell hasn’t introduced drug test legislation yet for the 2013 General Assembly session. The bill he introduced in the last session would have screened all state welfare recipients and then administered drug tests to those suspected of drug use. The legislation failed, however, after the state estimated it would cost $1.5 million to administer the tests, compared with the estimated $229,000 that would be saved by stripping benefits from those who test positive…. One in five of Virginia’s local social services offices already administer drug tests to welfare recipients to determine whether there are any barriers to employment, though testing positive does not result in the loss of benefits…. Other states have for years been testing welfare recipients for drugs. Arizona started in 2009. Missouri and Florida passed similar laws in 2011. Before Florida’s law was suspended by the courts, officials found that only 2 percent of welfare recipients tested positive for drugs. “Why are we legislating on a problem that might not be that big?” asked Catherine Pemberton, vice president for the Virginia League of Social Services Executives. “We’re not a ‘got you’ kind of business. People come to us because they’re in need. They’re vulnerable.
It’s a wasteful program that simply further stigmatizes people who need help.