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Welfare background checks, drug tests could be required in NC

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

Background checks and drug tests could soon be required for people applying for welfare benefits.

It's all part of House Bill 392.

It's had a lot of support, but not everyone is happy about it.

"We have to make a commitment to the hard working families who are willing to spend their tax dollars to help people in need," said Rep. Dean Arp, who sponsors the bill.

Arp says federal law requires the state to take steps to prevent abuse.

"Hard working families are struggling to make it, and we have limited resources. We want to make sure that aid is going to those people first and not these criminals, fleeing felons, and parole violators," said Arp.

The bill would also require certain people who get cash benefits through the state's Work First program to take a drug test.

The bill has passed through the House and the Senate but not all lawmakers are on board.

"This is not really a problem needing a solution. This is actually people looking for a way to punish people who are not successful by their standards," said Sen. Ellie Kinnaird.

She says the bill is "unfair" since only certain people are required to be tested. Those people are determined by who the Department of Social Services reasonably suspects are using drugs.

The bill lays out guidelines for determining what's reasonable, based on professional screening and prior drug convictions.

A positive drug test would disqualify the applicant from the assistance program for a year.

You can read the whole bill here.

Jonathan Rodriguez

Jonathan Rodriguez is an investigative reporter and member of the WNCN Investigates team. His storytelling specialty is connecting the dots to get to the truth, with a goal of delivering results for our community. If you have something you’d like WNCN to investigate, contact Jonathan.

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