Virginia Senate wants welfare recipients to take drug tests

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Virginia Senate has passed legislation to require drug screening of welfare recipients.

The Republican-backed bill passed 20-19 Tuesday and now goes to the House of Delegates, which has postponed its version of the measure until 2013.

Sen. Steve Martin of Chesterfield County said his bill would ensure that state welfare money is being spent as it is intended - to support families and children.

His bill would require an initial drug screening of welfare applicants, followed by drug testing if officials suspected illegal drug use.

Anyone testing positive could lose benefits for a year. Opponents argued the bill offends the dignity of welfare recipients and incorrectly assumes they use drugs more than the general population.

They also said the state would spend more on testing than it would save.