Gov. Pat McCrory rejects drug tests for welfare recipients

August 15, 2013 3:46:09 PM PDT
Governor Pat McCrory has vetoed drug testing for welfare benefit applicants Thursday, but mandated the sharing of criminal information.

McCrory vetoed legislation (HB 392), but signed an executive order -- named "Strengthening Fugitive Apprehension and Protecting Public Benefits" -- to implement the priority of the bill's criminal history verification and information sharing requirements for Work First applicants.

"While I support the efforts to ensure that fugitive felons are not on public assistance rolls, and to share information about them with law enforcement, other parts of this bill are unfair, fiscally irresponsible and have potential operational problems," McCrory said in a statement. "Drug testing Work First applicants as directed in this bill could lead to inconsistent application across the state's 100 counties. That's a recipe for government overreach and unnecessary government intrusion."

McCrory also called the bill fiscally irresponsible.

"This is not a smart way to combat drug abuse," McCrory went on to say. "Similar efforts in other states have proved to be expensive for taxpayers and did little to actually help fight drug addiction. It makes no sense to repeat those mistakes in North Carolina."

McCrory's decision to veto the legislation is his first as governor.

Despite the veto, the governor said he believed that the bill's requirement for verifying an applicant's criminal history and sharing information about welfare applicants is a "common-sense safeguard" to keep fugitive felons and other lawbreakers off public assistance rolls -- which is why McCrory said he used his executive authority.

He also directed state agencies to develop a plan for the best way to exchange information about fugitive felons.

McCrory also vetoed Anti-Jobs (HB 786) legislation Thursday, because, he said, it makes it easier for businesses to circumvent federal immigration law, which could allow more illegal immigrants to be hired in North Carolina industries.

"This legislation has a loophole that would allow businesses to exempt a higher percentage of their employees from proving they are legal U.S. citizens or residents," McCrory said. "Every job an illegal immigrant takes is one less job available for a legal North Carolina citizen. We must do everything we can to help protect jobs for North Carolinians first and foremost."

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