State representative proposes controversial new measures for welfare recipients - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

State representative proposes controversial new measures for welfare recipients

State Representative John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie State Representative John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie

By Keitha Nelson - bio | email

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Last year, state Representative John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie, brought up the idea to pay poor women to be sterilized has another controversial proposal on the table; now, he's proposing to block government aid to certain convicted felons for up to a decade and require all welfare recipients to undergo drug screenings.

Currently, 20,000 people in Louisiana are on welfare. Trey Williams with the Department of Social Services says many of those families have children and rely on the system so they won't go hungry. If Representative LaBruzzo has his way, though, regardless of specific circumstances, a person with a felony drug conviction would be ineligible for government assistance for ten years (HB 138). "My goal is to try and make sure that we're saving the taxpayer's money and we're getting the biggest bang for our buck and we're eliminating those people who are abusing drugs in the welfare system," he  said.

LaBruzzo is also proposing a measure requiring all welfare recipients to undergo drug testing (HB 137). Currently, DSS gives drug screenings to the majority of recipients. Williams says that totals about $4.1 million a year, so drug testing for everyone could be pricey. Labruzzo believes it's worth it. As for his controversial proposal, the Metairie lawmaker says he's willing to take the heat in order to stand up for what he believes is right. LaBruzzo says the ban would be reduced to two years if the person successfully completes a drug treatment program.

John Smith with 100 Black Men says shutting out ex-offenders might not be the best route to take. He argues reform is the key word and by not helping someone in need, in the end, could end up costing taxpayers even more. "It appears that if we deny a person access to temporary assistance, it kind of flies in the face of their becoming taxpayers again," Smith said.

The next legislative session starts on Monday, April 27th.

©2009 WAFB. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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