The federal government has warned the state of Georgia that its new law requiring some food-stamp recipients to undergo drug testing is illegal.
In a letter to Georgia’s attorney general on Tuesday, Robin Bailey, regional administrator of the Department of Agriculture, told Georgia that drug testing to qualify for food stamps “is not allowable under law.” The letter did not specify a possible penalty.
Georgia Republican Gov. Nathan Deal and state Attorney General Sam Olens, also a Republican, declined to comment on Wednesday on the letter.
But the measure’s Republican sponsor said he believed the drug-testing program should begin as planned on July 1 even if that prompts a court fight with the federal government.
“Some bureaucrat in the Obama administration shouldn’t be dictating policy in the state of Georgia,” state Rep. Greg Morris told Reuters on Wednesday. “We should implement the law. I believe it’s constitutional,” he said.
Under the bill, testing could be required if authorities have a “reasonable suspicion” of drug use. People failing the test would temporarily lose benefits, although their children could receive assistance through another adult.