Gov. Bill Haslam has signed the bill providing for the implementation of a suspicion-based drug-testing program for Tennessee welfare applicants. The state's Department of Human Services is now tasked with working out the particulars of the program, which must then be approved by the attorney general.
As seen in the video above — where Haslam responds to several questions from a Scene reporter with a particularly charming stammer — the governor said granting the DHS the ability to make the rules for the policy and requiring approval from the AG allayed his previous concerns about the bill. Originally, it would have required drug-testing for all applicants, and at one point even included testing for some current recipients based on unspecified suspicions.
As is stands now, applicants who raise red flags on a pre-screening would be required to submit to a test.
Asked whether it's fair to ask someone who is already struggling financially, and is most likely drug-free, to spend a decent percentage of the assistance they're seeking on a drug test, Haslam gave a typically Haslamian answer. He correctly identified both sides of the argument and shrugged his shoulders, without giving any further defense for the side he's chosen.
In Florida, where a drug-testing program has been halted by a federal judge, the state reimbursed applicants who proved to be drug-free. Tennessee's law does not currently include such a provision, and Haslam did not indicate whether he would support one.