Raleigh, N.C. — The Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that would require people applying for public assistance to pass a drug test and would require local Department of Social Service offices to conduct criminal background checks on applicants.
Senators voted 43-6 in favor of House Bill 392, which now heads back to the House for a final vote on changes to the measure.
Under current law, DSS offices may ask someone if they're a fugitive or conduct a criminal background check, but they are not allowed to share that information with local sheriffs or other law enforcement agencies.
The House version of the bill called for social service workers to call law enforcement if someone applying for Food and Nutrition Assistance, what many people call food stamps, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which are cash payments, is found to have an outstanding warrant. The Senate version says the Social Services Commission will draft rules for what information will be shared with law enforcement.
The drug test requirement calls for applicants to pay for the test and bans anyone with a positive test from receiving benefits for a year, unless they can show they have completed a substance abuse treatment program and can pass a subsequent test.