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ALEC v The Poor
Guilty Of Poverty?
- ALEC Exposed - Alec Exposed
The Center for Media and Democracy has EXPOSED over 800 "model" bills and resolutions secretly voted on by corporations and politicians through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
- Turning Poverty Into an American Crime--The Nation
". . . The most shocking thing I learned from my research on the fate of the working poor in the recession was the extent to which poverty has indeed been criminalized in America. . . ."
A Missed Model?
It doesn't take much to get me to thinking. When the Trayvon Martin shooting brought the right-wing lobbying group ALEC into focus, I started wondering what other legislation may have come from the group.
When Georgia decided to follow Florida's lead in requiring applicants for public assistance submit to drug tests, I saw it as many things. An attempt to criminalize poverty, a way to advance the stereotype of the welfare recipient and divide the %99, but also a way to have some industries make money. The laws require that the applicant pay the fees; in Florida the cost of the test is added to the first weeks benefits, and in Georgia it is capped at $17. If an applicant fails the test, they are directed to treatment, that they have to pay for. I have taken drug screens for jobs, but they were in all but one case paid for by the employer.
It was in reviewing the two state's laws that I noticed some similarities in the wording. For example, Florida's Law states:
(2) The department shall
(a) Provide notice of drug testing to each individual at the time of application.
(e) The department shall
(1) Provide notice of drug testing to each individual at the time of application. The notice must advise the individual that drug testing will be conducted as a condition for receiving TANF benefits and that the individual shall bear the cost of testing.
Should an applicant fail, and find either free treatment or absorb the cost of treatment, they can reapply and retest after six months. Both Florida's and Georgia's laws have "Three Strikes" provisions.
With many applicants having children, some provision needed to be to made to keep them from paying for their parent's mistakes. The two States' language on this could have come from the same author.
(b) An appropriate protective payee shall be designated to receive benefits for a minor child.
(c) The parent may choose to designate another individual to receive benefits for a minor child. . . .
(2) An appropriate protective payee shall be designated to receive benefits on behalf of a minor child, and;
(3) The parent may chose to designate another individual to receive benefits for this parent's minor child. . . .
I can understand Georgia taking cues from Florida's law. But where did Florida get their notes from? Knowing what we do about ALEC's legislative activities, and their agenda, we may have our answer.