The U.S. Department of Agriculture has informed the state of Georgia that it can't require food stamp recipients to undergo drug testing.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal speaks in Ellijay, Ga., on Wednesday, April 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Chattanooga Times Free Press, John Rawlston)
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal earlier this year signed into law a bill requiring that food stamp recipients in the state be drug-tested if there is reasonable suspicion that they are using drugs.
But this week, the Department of Agriculture — which runs the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program known as SNAP — stepped in to say the state can't enforce the law, setting up a dispute involving states' rights, the fight against drug use and the expanding use of food stamps.
“Requiring SNAP applicants and recipients to pass a drug test in order to receive benefits would constitute an additional condition of eligibility, and therefore, is not allowable under law,” USDA Regional Administrator Robin Bailey said in a letter to Georgia Human Services Commissioner Keith Horton.
Deal told WJCL-TV the department's letter was under review.
“We received a letter from a federal agency that states our new law requiring drug testing for food stamp benefits does not comply with federal law. We’ve forwarded those concerns to the attorney general for further review,” Deal told WJCL.
The law states that if benefits are removed, that children in a household can be transferred to another home in order to still have food.
A similar law passed in Florida was found unconstitutional by a federal court.