A bill that would require drug testing for recipients of some public assistance programs cleared a House committee on Tuesday.
The legislation requires local departments of social services to screen participants in the VIEW (Virginia Initiative for Employment not Welfare) program. Anyone who fails a test, or refuses to participate would be ineligible for payments for a period of one year.
Botetourt County Delegate Chris Head (R-17th District) sponsored one of the bills. His proposal was incorporated into a similar proposal introduced by another lawmaker. "It's just simply as stewards of public money," he told reporters after the hearing, "we have the responsibility to make sure that money is being spent wisely."
One Democratic lawmaker described the legislation as indefensible. "I find it inexplicable when we're endorsing an idea where we invade somebody's body, draw their blood to determine if that person has committed an illegal act," said Richmond Delegate Joe Morrissey (D-74th District).
The committee voted along party lines, approving House Bill 73 on a vote of 14 to 8.