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@NCCapitol

Critics bash Tillis's entitlement remarks

Posted October 11, 2011

The state ACLU and state Democrats were quick to criticize House Speaker Thom Tillis's remarks on drug testing and public assistance.

Drug testing requirements for public benefits have been in the headlines this week. They're already in place in several states, most recently Florida, where people who get cash benefits have to pay for their own drug tests to remain eligible for help. The state reimburses them if they pass. @NCCapitol Tillis backs drug tests for benefits

Critics of the requirements say testing programs violate personal privacy rights and usually end up costing more money than they save. One program in Michigan was declared unconstitutional. Florida is also being sued by the ACLU over its law, which took effect in July.

At an event at Mars Hill College last Friday, Tillis said he would support mandatory testing in NC. "By gosh, if we come back in 2013, I don’t know if we’ll go as far as Florida, but if you’re receiving government assistance, and every once in a while we want to do random drug tests, done on a fair basis, I think we should do it." 

"What we have to do is find a way to divide and conquer the people who are on assistance," Tillis tells the crowd in the Youtube video. "We have to show respect for that woman who has cerebral palsy and had no choice in her condition, that needs help, and we should help. And we need to get those folks to look down at these people who choose to get into a condition that makes them dependent on the government, and say, at some point, you’re on your own."

Asked to clarify the "divide and conquer" remark, Tillis's spokesman Jordan Shaw offered the following:

"The Speaker simply meant that we need to protect individuals who, through no choice or fault of their own, depend on the state for benefits, and we need to ensure that those individuals are not negatively impacted by a small group of people who may abuse the system," Shaw said. "It's about providing real help to those legitimately in need while protecting our programs from fraud, waste and abuse."

State Democratic Party Chairman David Parker took a less benign view of the comment. "As usual, Speaker Thom Tillis is focused on dividing North Carolinians instead of bringing them together," Parker said in a statement. "By trying to humiliate our most underprivileged and poverty-stricken citizens it's clear that Thom Tillis is nothing more than a school-yard bully—he should be ashamed of himself.”  

“Representative Tillis will say or do almost anything to distract from his miserable economic record as Speaker of the House. He needs to spend less time thinking about how to divide and conquer North Carolinians and more time following Governor Perdue’s lead on working to recruit new jobs and industry to our state,” said Parker. 

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina also weighed in. 

“Drug testing as a requirement for public assistance is not only a violation of an individual’s constitutional rights, but notoriously ineffective,” said state ACLU director Jennifer Rudinger. “Testing every public aid recipient or state employee, regardless of their job or whether or not they are suspected of drug use, would represent an egregious, wasteful, and unjustified invasion of privacy for potentially millions of North Carolinians.” 

13 Comments

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  • UsernameUsed Oct 20, 1:23 p.m.

    All those critics may consider reframing their assertions that random drug testing of the poor is a violation of constitutional rights. Taxpayers have no choice as to whether they pay taxes, but people with substance dependence have a choice to get help or not. Medicaid will pay for treatment, but the person has to want to get better. Rather than calling it a violation of rights to do random drug tests, I think it is a protection against abuse of privilege. It is an oxymoron to say that someone on public assistance has the money for drugs, and I work too hard to pay for someone else's bad habits.

  • SpaceRokr Oct 19, 12:34 p.m.

    If you don't like drug testing as a job requirement, you go elsewhere for employment. If you don't like drug testing for Public Assistance, go elsewhere for it. If there isn't another job to go to, you get to suck it up or not eat. Needs to be the same for Public Assistance.

  • greg69innc Oct 19, 6:18 a.m.

    Mr. Tillis obviously has no respect for the people of NC just as the ones on unemployment that went almost two months without any kind of income and consequently could not put gas in their cars to go to interviews. If it hadnt been for Bev they'd still be starved to death and used as pawns to pressure our leaders.

  • bigballs Oct 16, 9:12 p.m.

    You cant drive drunk. Why should you be allowed to accept welfare when your high.

  • marktroll Oct 13, 10:01 a.m.

    @sarcasticles, what does the wake co election have to do with the redistricting of the NC House and Senate? you are certifiably off your rocker.

  • jcs3102 Oct 13, 9:55 a.m.

    every state employee has to pass a drug test as part of the hiring process. if you want a state check you should have to pass the same drug test as a state employee does.

  • ljohnson247 Oct 13, 7:40 a.m.

    The Dems do not want to lose any votes. Said state ACLU director Jennifer Rudinger "Drug testing as a requirement for public assistance is not only a violation of an individual’s constitutional rights, but notoriously ineffective.” Testing every public aid recipient or state employee, regardless of their job or whether or not they are suspected of drug use, would represent an egregious, wasteful, and unjustified invasion of privacy for potentially millions of North Carolinians.” At most jobs today one must take a drug test. Is that against the law? Again, the Dems will do any and everything to get votes at taxpayer expense. Think about it.

  • lawdawg302 Oct 12, 5:03 p.m.

    If we've never had sex, I am not responsible for your children. If I am not on your loan documents, I am not resposible for your mortgage. But wait; we have politicians that are willing to steal my money and buy your vote with it. Since I have to be tested to earn it, you should be tested to take it.

  • YourMom Oct 12, 4:03 p.m.

    "The past 100 years of lib rule...." driverkid3

    Stats please...

  • SARCASTICLES Oct 12, 2:56 p.m.

    That name says it all, "My Friend".....see what happened in the Wake. Co. election? THAT is what's for dinner in 2012, "My Friend". ( all the talk radio nuts like to say that to people that AIN'T their friends.) ;)

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