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ACLU-NC & Others Call on Gov. McCrory to Veto Drug Testing Bill

RALEIGH – Today the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC), the North Carolina Justice Center, and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice sent a letter to North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, asking him to veto H.B. 392, legislation that would require some applicants to the state’s Work First program, which provides temporary support for families as they work toward self-sufficiency, to pay up front for and submit to urine tests before receiving public assistance.

During a press conference on Friday, Gov. McCrory said he had “major concerns” about H.B. 392’s “fair application” and was considering a veto.

The bill “represents a government intrusion into the physical privacy of a select group of North Carolinians merely because they have fallen on hard times,” the letter states. “The privacy and dignity of all North Carolinians are protected by restrictions on unreasonable searches in both our federal and state constitutions, especially searches as invasive as those proposed in this bill.”

In 2011, a Florida law that mandated drug tests for all applicants of the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program was halted just months after it went into effect after the ACLU of Florida challenged the law and a federal court ruled the program unconstitutional. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals later unanimously upheld that decision.

In the four months that Florida's law was in place, the state drug tested 4,086 TANF applicants. A mere 108 individuals tested positive. To put it another way, only 2.6 percent of applicants tested positive for illegal drugs — a rate more than three times lower than the 8.13 percent of all Floridians, age 12 and up, estimated by the federal government to use illegal drugs.   

Read today's letter here.

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