Peter Palumbo wants welfare recipients to take regular drug tests if they want to keep their benefits.
Representative Palumbo, a conservative Democrat in the Rhode Island General Assembly, has created a bill that would require testing of all adults in the household as well. Palumbo claims to have heard stories about people who trade food stamps or other such funding for street drugs. Regular testing, he believes, would remove users from welfare and ultimately, save the state money.
Palumbo and fellow state reps Robert Jacquard, Charlene Lima and Arthur Corvese have inked a bill to that effect. Curiously, Palumbo was noticeably absent from a recent hearing during which civil libertarians and community groups blasted the proposal.
Constitutional issues aside, what's disturbing about such a measure is the precedent that would be set -- would people receiving unemployment benefits be his next targets? How about social security payments?
And, Representative Palumbo, who is going to pay for this?
There are about 7,000 Rhode Islanders on welfare -- to search out a few individuals who potentially could be abusing drugs and the system would cost more than what would be saved.
About 12.7 percent of the slightly over 1 million Rhode Islanders are out of work, and 14 percent are living at the poverty level. One community tried to deal with its economic mess by firing all the teachers. Foreclosures are through the roof.
You would think that Palumbo and all the rest of his cohorts might better spend their time trying to figure out solutions to those huge issues instead of sweating the small stuff.
Amen, and pass the mustard.