States Eye Linking Public Assistance, Drug Tests
By Pamela M. Prah, Staff Writer
PUBLIC ASSISTANCE STRINGS: South Carolina is among 27 states, including Arizona , Florida and Massachusetts , to consider legislation this year that would require recipients of various kinds of public assistance to pass drug tests, USA TODAY reports . Supporters say such a move would make it easier for companies to hire from the unemployment rolls, but detractors say it's unconstitutional.
FOOD STAMP FRAUD: Cost-cutting legislators in Illinois want to join a national push to fight fraud by adding identification photos to food-stamp cards, says The Associated Press. Advocates say photo IDs would prevent people from selling the cards for cash, but opponents say such a requirement would amplify a negative stigma about food stamps. Meanwhile, Iowa and Texas are looking at prohibiting people from purchasing "junk food," such as hot dogs, with food stamps.
JOB TRAINING CUTS: Federal funding for job training programs was cut by more than $870 million in the budget compromise President Obama and congressional leaders reached to avert a government shutdown. Cuts include occupational training grants at community colleges, "green" jobs classes and a program to help low-income older people acquire work skills, The Washington Post reports .
MORE THAN 900 ABORTION BILLS: Kansas and Idaho joined Nebraska as the only states to ban late-term abortions because of "fetal pain." The view that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks after conception is not accepted by all medical professionals. The attorney general in Idaho has said the measure is unconstitutional . More than 900 abortion measures had been introduced by the end of March and seven states had enacted 15 new abortion-related laws, says the Guttmacher Institute . The new laws include expanding the pre-abortion waiting period requirement in South Dakota from 24 hours to 72 hours and allowing any hospital employee in Utah to refuse to "participate in any way." A more detailed analysis from Guttmacher is available here .
GAY ADOPTION: Legislation to give married couples a tie-breaker preference over singles for state-arranged adoptions is headed to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. The preference would apply if all other criteria are equal, AzCapitolTimes.com explains . Social conservatives support the bill. Gay-rights advocates oppose it. Meanwhile Virginia 's attorney general has advised a state board that it cannot impose new regulations that some argue would for the first time allow gay couples to adopt children in Virginia, according to The Washington Post.