Raleigh, N.C. — The state House has passed a bill that would require local social service agencies to conduct background checks on those applying for food stamps and other federal benefits.
A once-controversial measure, the bill enjoyed broad bipartisan support on a 106-6 vote Thursday. The bill now goes to the Senate.
"We're not talking about parking tickets that are unpaid. We're talking about fugitive felons," said Rep. Dean Arp, R-Union. Federal rules prohibit granting benefits to fugitives.
The measure had been highly controversial early in its legislative run. But one-time opponents backed the measure Thursday, saying their local Department of Social Services directors had agreed that the bill would not be a problem.
A fiscal estimate attached to the measure says it would only cost the state $144,841.24 to adjust computer systems to provide the background checks.
One of the few remaining opponents was Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham, who said the measure reflected a bias that poor people were automatically suspect while well-off people were considered above reproach.
He submitted and amendment to adjust the way the state gives job-development grants to companies relocating and expanding in the state.
"All this amendment does is say that when a corporation applies for a JDIG grant ... the CEO of this company and CFO of the company" would have to undergo background checks.
House Speaker Thom Tillis ruled the amendment was out of order, and it was never voted on.