Political Notebook: Drug Testing the Poor
Bits and bites from the world of Virginia and national politics.
Drug testing the poor: A bill that would require local departments of social service to screen participants for possible drug use has won approval in the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Recipients who test positive or refuse to participate would lose certain welfare benefits for a year, though non-drug-using family members could still receive their benefits.
Meanwhile, Sen. Barbara Favola, D-Arlington, has put forth legislation that would remove a lifetime ban, already in place, against recipients convicted of drug possession. If her legislation passes, those individuals would once again be eligible for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF, once they have satisfied any sentence imposed by the courts and have enrolled in or completed a substance abuse treatment program.
Voter ID bill passes Senate: Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling cast the tie-breaking vote this week in a bill that stiffens the identification requirements, according to the Roanoke Times. Under current law, voters without identification must sign a sworn affidavit in order to cast a ballot. The new law, should it go into effect, would allow those people to cast provisional ballots that only would be counted if they can later prove their identities.
Critics have called such legislation attempts at "voter suppression" and likened the bills to Jim Crow laws.
VA or VP?: The Associated Press moved a good story that looks at the position ultra-conservative legislators have put Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell in. In the past, Senate Democrats have acted as a buffer, killing any bills that they and moderate Republicans might find extreme, the AP reports. Now, those bills may be heading to McDonnell's desk.
Meanwhile, McDonnell has spent time campaigning for GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. How McDonnell handles ultra-conservative legislation could determine if his name makes it to the short list for a potential vice presidential running mate.