Politics & Government
9:28 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Lawmakers Approve Welfare Changes

The Alabama Legislature has passed a bill requiring people to apply for three jobs before seeking welfare benefits.

The Senate voted 28-1 Thursday to go along with changes the House made in the bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Arthur Orr of Decatur. The bill applies to applications for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, commonly called welfare. It not only requires applicants to apply for three jobs, but to keep applying for jobs once they receive benefits.

The Senate also gave final approval Thursday to a bill providing new penalties for welfare fraud. On Wednesday, the House gave final approval to a bill prohibiting the use of welfare benefit cards at liquor stores, bars, tattoo parlors, psychic networks and strip clubs.

The bills now go to the governor for review.

Meanwhile, The Alabama Legislature has approved a bill to drug test welfare applicants who have had drug convictions within the last five years.

The House of Representatives voted 73-27 for the bill Thursday. It now goes to Gov. Robert Bentley for his signature.

A person could keep their benefits after one positive drug test. After a second positive, the person would be ineligible for one year. The recipient would be permanently ineligible after a third positive drug test.

Republican Rep. Kerry Rich told lawmakers he wanted to make sure people weren't using benefits to buy drugs.

Opposed lawmakers said the tests would cost the state money but accomplish little. The state already bans people with felony drug convictions from collecting benefits under Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.