NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee families on food stamps saw an increase Wednesday in how much they get each month. Some state lawmakers are concerned about just who is getting the tax dollars.
The extra cash was part of new stimulus money the state received. A household of one will see an increase of $24 a month, and a family of four will get an $80 boost in monthly benefits.
State Rep. Susan Lynn was drafting legislation that calls for recipients of food stamps, unemployment benefits or welfare to go through random drug testing.
"Taxpayers are concerned that they might be funding the monster of drug addiction, and they don't want that," said Lynn. "This is really no different than what people are used to."
More than a million Tennesseeans are in the food stamp program. The thought some of those people could be on drugs does not sit well with Lynn.
"We know that children are not as safe in homes where parents are using drugs, we are subsidizing that behavior through federal programs," said Lynn.
State Rep. Brenda Gilmore wondered if you start testing a certain group of people where will you draw the line.
"I would not be in support of that bill," said Gilmore. "I don't think we need to prey upon poor people, anymore than what they what they have to be subjected to."
Gilmore may have federal law on her side. Similar efforts supporting random drug testing have failed over the years. The belief was that bill violated 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.
"I would really like to see us use this money that we would use for testing, in the way of education, and in a way of getting people to services so we can get them off of drugs," said Gilmore.
Lawmakers in eight states and Tennessee are trying to find a way to make it happen.
"We have tried to in the past, and told that we couldn't, so I think its time we give this another go," said Lynn.
Random drug testing for certain people on public assistance does happen in six other states. In states like Indiana convicted felons or parolees do have to go through drug testing in order to be eligible to get public assistance.