Governor Pat McCrory issued the first veto under his administration last Thursday, rejecting legislation originally introduced by Sen. Jim Davis (R-50) that called for people applying for welfare benefits be required to pass a drug test.
Senator Davis was the primary sponsor on Senate Bill 594, which was the first piece of legislation to mention drug testing for the welfare program known as WorkFirst. Applicants for the federal assistance program would have had to pass a drug screen before being eligible for benefits. The bill, which passed the Senate in a 35-15 vote, was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration, where the wording was adopted and embedded into House Bill 392.
In addition to drug testing for Work First, House Bill 392 would have required Social Services to verify applicants' criminal history and share that information with law enforcement. The governor signed an executive order to carry out that portion of the bill.
According to a release from his office, Gov. McCrory said that he vetoed the bill because of questions regarding funding and constitutionality. “While I support the efforts to ensure that fugitive felons are not on public assistance rolls, and to share information about them with law enforcement, other parts of this bill are unfair, fiscally irresponsible and have potential operational problems,” McCrory said. “Drug testing Work First applicants as directed in this bill could lead to inconsistent application across the state’s 100 counties. That’s a recipe for government overreach and unnecessary government intrusion.”
The governor also considers the bill fiscally irresponsible as drug testing of welfare programs in Utah, Arizona and other states proved to be expensive and ineffective at catching drug abusers. “This is not a smart way to combat drug abuse,” McCrory said. “Similar efforts in other states have proved to be expensive for taxpayers and did little to actually help fight drug addiction. It makes no sense to repeat those mistakes in North Carolina.”
Senator Davis, however, believes that by taking Senate Bill 594 and embedding it in House Bill 392, the bill was made stronger and is confident the governor's veto will not stick. "I am confident we will override the governor's veto if the caucus decides to do so," said Davis. "The veto override must start in the House, but I am sure we will do it because we worked hard to get bipartisan support on the bill."
"My goal is to let people know that we take illegal drug use seriously in this state," said Davis. "Every kid regardless of social economic status or skin color deserves to grow up in a drug free home."