Welfare recipients to lose benefits after second drug conviction

Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 12:19pm

Tennesseans on welfare will lose their benefits for three years after their second felony drug conviction under legislation that went to the governor for his signature Wednesday.

The state House joined the Senate in adopting the bill despite the objections of some Democrats who said they worried that it might harm children in the families of drug users.

“Tennesseans deserve to know that their lawmakers are being good stewards of their funds,” Sen. Roy Herron, D-Dresden, said. “This bill ensures that we are not subsidizing drug dealers with taxpayer money.”

After a first drug conviction, welfare beneficiaries can remain eligible for payments as long as they enter drug treatment programs.

Rep. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville, said, “I certainly don’t condone the use of drugs by anyone, but I do feel like it’s wrong to penalize the children because of drug use by the guardian or a parent. I just don’t want to see the children hurt as a result of the irresponsibility of the parent, and I think there are some unintended consequences.”

But other lawmakers argued giving welfare payments to drug abusers only perpetuates the problems of the family. Rep. John DeBerry, D-Memphis said, “This is one of those bills that’s kind of tough love. Some of the children are going to be hurt. But more of them are going to be helped. This is what we’ve got to do.”

Filed under: City News

39 Comments on this post:

By: BigPapa on 5/4/11 at 10:30

"and I think there are some unintended consequences.” I think she's referencing the children there the way these people behave.
Look as long was we reward bad behavior that is exactly what we will get. Glad someone has the b@lls to make a change.

By: house_of_pain on 5/4/11 at 10:39

I'd like to see this action taken after the 1st conviction.

By: mtlycru1 on 5/4/11 at 11:03

Your kidding me right. If the parents are drug addicts, convicted for drug use, the kids should be taken from the parents until the "rehab" has been completed. As far as receiving welfare payments.....I don't work 8-10 hours a day to pay for people to sit on their butts getting stoned all day and the government using my money to pay for them. Every time they go to renew their applications, have to go to Public Health departments, receive food stamps or WIC, they should be tested for drugs.

I have seen 1st hand people allowing others to use their benefit cards for groceries in exchange for cash......Wow, I really think those of us who have worked all these years to support these programs should stop working and go on welfare ourselves, the people that are currently on welfare can have our jobs and pay for us to sit around.

Don't get me wrong - if you are unable to work due to an honest disability or illness that is different - this is not in your control. "Living" off the government is not an excuse.

By: MamaG on 5/4/11 at 11:04

I agree 100% with House...stop their benefits. This is already a big problem when we have all these women with children and the baby daddy's are drug dealers. No wonder they receive help, because they can't claim the drug money as income. Meanwhile, those who actually are trying to do the right thing cannot get help from these programs because they make 10 or 11 k per year at their job.

By: MamaG on 5/4/11 at 11:07

by mtlycru1:
Every time they go to renew their applications, have to go to Public Health departments, receive food stamps or WIC, they should be tested for drugs.

I have seen 1st hand people allowing others to use their benefit cards for groceries in exchange for cash

Right on! Test them for drugs before renewing and if people are allowing others to use their benefit cards in exchange for cash (which I know is true) then the children are not benefitting from this program in the first place.

By: unclesam328 on 5/4/11 at 11:30

In a rare moment, I agree with all the comments.

By: it's about time on 5/4/11 at 11:42

Finally! I have in-laws that have been on welfare for the better part of 16 years now. Why? Becaue they are too lazy to get off their fried butts to get a JOB! It sickens me to know me and my husband struggle daily to keep food in our house and gas in our vehicles while they sit around getting stoned and drinking beer. How can they keep qualifying for benifits? All they have to do is go in and fill out an app and they're approved? They have never once been drug tested or asked if they have looked for a job. They all have homes, vehicles and satellite TV. How can you get benifits because your are no income when you can afford to pay for TV??? Three out of the four have been in jail for DUI, drug arrests, domestic violence. They ALL receive TennCare and get their scripts filled and then sell them for $900+ a month. How come the state keeps giving them MY money???? I wish I could say I don't want to work and have TN fill my refrigerator every month. I think after 16 years maybe, just maybe, the state should tell them to go away and support themselves for a change.

By: gdiafante on 5/4/11 at 12:55

It's amazing how everyone that is on welfare sits on their butt and gets stoned all the time. We should probably just send everyone on welfere to China to breed.

By: mg357 on 5/4/11 at 1:21

Gd; think the Chinese would be overjoyed to get these baby factories who game the system? To the poster with the Tenncare fraud comments; you can report them on the Tenncare website and get a reward from the state, you did know that? Many of us have been forced to watch this abuse for years, especially the ones of us who work. I'm in agreement with the poster who said the benefits should end after the 1st conviction and be drug tested before any benefits are administered in the doggone 1st place. I also believe that if a woman is delivering for the 2nd time on the taxpayer's dime; the state should throw in a complimentary hysterectomy. Termination with extreme prejudice; problem solved. We don't owe these deadbeats anything....mg

By: it's about time on 5/4/11 at 1:28

MG, I know I can turn them in. I contacted the Dept of Child services to turn them once. Guess what happened to them. NOTHING! I turn them in for exposing their kids to meth and the state did nothing!!! That was the hardest phone call I have ever made. I'm not looking to make money off of them but I am looking to stop paying their bills for them. Please understand why I can't turn them in for fraud, they are still part of my family and I can't drag the "good" members of the family thru that. BTW, one has 6, yes 6 kids. Making a killing compliments of TN.

By: mg357 on 5/4/11 at 1:29

I saw a woman try to buy dog food with her food stamp card. The cashier told her the card wouldn't pay for the dog food. She hotly replied; *my damn dog doesn't have to eat dogfood,* She pushed the bag of dog food aside and went back to the meat case and returned with a family pak of ground beef. Someone in the waiting line should have punched her out. What a crock! They get the cash from the EBT card and buy beer and cigarettes with money that is supposed to be used for the kids; fat chance of that happening. We, the taxpayers are providing 2 meals a day at school and then this crap on top of that. No damn wonder the kids are starved to death on Monday..mg

By: mg357 on 5/4/11 at 1:33

It's about time; notify the Tennessee Office of the Insperctor General. They have a drug task force for Tenncare and food stamp fraud. I understand your hesitation but; they are breaking the law and we are all paying the price...mg

By: gdiafante on 5/4/11 at 2:03

MG, it would be in order to infiltrate Chinese society with lazy stoners. Then maybe one day we can overtake them economically.

And we'd have a good shot at Olympic gold...

By: mg357 on 5/4/11 at 2:20

gd; correct me here if I'm wrong. Isn't there some kind of restriction on the number of children you can have? Think they still have opium dens there? I somehow don't think that the Chinese avail their citizens to the freebies we so graciously administer here at home. Their motto is probably work or starve. Think they know what ribeyes are........mg

By: Nitzche on 5/4/11 at 4:38

say it aint so?? what about the kids?

By: mg357 on 5/4/11 at 6:15

Nitzche; See the problem for what it is. These poor children are exploited by their parents for sheer profit, nothing more. Most folks feel empathy for a child;correct ? Don't you think for one second these bums don't expound on this using the kids as a means to an end. Even demons don't think people are happier in hell. Kids deserve better than this don't you think.........mg

By: Liberal Bias on 5/5/11 at 4:33

Does anyone in the legislature really believe that a twice-convicted parent is really going to use the monthly welfare subsidy for anything other than maintaining their drug habit? No child should even be in that environment, and all able-bodied convicts need to be working for the good of the community. They can start with picking up trash for $8 an hour...

By: budlight on 5/5/11 at 6:24

"Rep. John DeBerry, D-Memphis said, “This is one of those bills that’s kind of tough love. Some of the children are going to be hurt. But more of them are going to be helped. This is what we’ve got to do.”"

What a turn about. If this were Republicans saying take away benefits, you people would be up in arms, but since it's a Democratic thing, it's "tough love".

mg357 I agree that some of the welfare parents exploit children for the sheer profit, especially those who keep on having welfare babies.

gdiafante on 5/4/11 at 1:55
It's amazing how everyone that is on welfare sits on their butt and gets stoned all the time. We should probably just send everyone on welfere to China to breed.

You sound bitter G.

By: dargent7 on 5/5/11 at 6:48

I keep forgetting I'm living in the Bible belt and then these assinine comments remind how "Christian" the south is.
Yes...by all means, cut 'em all off. They make way more money selling drugs.
Big time drug dealers aren't on welfare or Foodstamps.
These people sell weed, crack to other weed, crack users. Nickel and dime.
All have kids who will suffer.
And you cannot buy dog/ cat food, soap, detergent, toothpaste, toilet paper w/ Foodstamps.
So, pets eat human food. And some idiot previously wanted the woman with the dog, "punched out"?
Drug testing costs $90. per. The system cannot afford another layer of buracracy.

By: budlight on 5/5/11 at 6:54

So, D7 are you saying that it's OK to sell your foodstamps or your free drugs? I'm not sure where you stand on that?

Also, if a person is on food stamps and state aid, how do they afford a dog? You know, the shots, vet bills and food are expensive even for those of us who work full time.

By: dargent7 on 5/5/11 at 7:20

No, trading your Foodstamps for cash to buy beer or drugs is wrong.
But, abandoning your dog/ cat because you cannot afford their food is another.
The "mg" guy wanted her arrested and assulted for buying ground beef for her dog.
Maybe she rescued the dog from the humane society or shelter?
Painting these welfare people with these broad strokes: "they sit around and get stoned all day...", "deal drugs.." is absurd.
You, me, us, don't know these desperate people.

By: dargent7 on 5/5/11 at 7:22

And I bet a buck this "mg357" 's moniker isn't referring to his weight.
Probably a NRA gun-freak who carries a S&W 357 and thinks he's Clint Eastwood.

By: Siobhanne on 5/5/11 at 7:22

There are some people who genuinely need welfare and food stamps, such as the elderly and GENUINELY disabled. Ironically they are the people least likely to receive them. My next door neighbor routinely goes around the neighborhood each month trying to sell her foodstamps to support her drug habit. The monthly welfare check she gets does not go to pay for utilities, food, or upkeep of the home.. which is in severe disrepair. She has multiple convictions for prostitution and drug possession. I have reported the abuse and absolutely NOTHING has been done. I can safely guarantee that the food stamp/welfare program has done nothing but enable her. It goes straight up her nose.

By: budlight on 5/5/11 at 7:35

Siobhanne, that is sad both for her and for society.

By: Houston on 5/5/11 at 7:35

The deeper question is why do we allow people to have children who can't properly raise them. They come begging for money from the rest of us, who limit our fertility to fit our means. And not only can they not support those children financially, many of them are complete failures as role models--lazy, promiscuous, perpetually inebriated. So why are we paying them to have more children?

By: dargent7 on 5/5/11 at 7:52

Why? Because this is America. Not China.
You are free to act stupid and irresponsible, and get rewarded for it.
Want a "deeper question"?
Why is it we voted for GW Bush twice and allowed him to invade Iraq?
bin Laden and al Qaeda weren't in Iraq.
We spent over a trillion in a country that was a pipsqueek in the terrorist market.
So, if a lady choses to use her welfare for beer and drugs, or dog food, it's a minor problem for me in comparison of the USA bombing, destroying, killing innocent people in in soveriegn countries.

By: klips on 5/5/11 at 8:05

Why allow drug and alcohol abusers on welfare to begin with, much less wait till a felony conviction which might never happen to get them out of the system?? I tried reporting a roommate to the state of Tn. when I lived there. NOTHING happened and she had a prior record of drug related arrests a mile long!! She continued to get EBT cards, selling them to get drugs (along with her PIN for it), and even got SS disability for her Hepatitis C that was caused from using needles behind other infected persons. She had no children at home, yet the amount in food stamps that she received was ridiculous! So, needless to say, I ended up NOT being her roommate and the state just upped her food stamp receipts since she was left to support herself alone! Can you believe it????
If we who work have to submit to drug testing to get and keep a job, then the lazy slugs who live off of my tax dollars should have to comply to the same rules to get welfare! I am excluding those who cannot work due to some disease not related to drug or alcohol abuse, or to some traumatic event. And, why does our SS admin. choose to jump at giving disability to those who have self induced diseases related to substance abuse?? Disability and welfare programs need a massive enema!!

By: klips on 5/5/11 at 8:29

dargent...if that lady rescued the dog form a shelter or Humane Society, where did she get the cash to pay for doing such? It costs $75.00 to "rescue" a dog or cat from any shelter. I know, because I've done it. My theory is that if you can't afford to feed yourself and kids, then you dang sure don't need an animal to feed and maintain vaccinations!
And, you're absolutely right about the trillions spent needlessly in Iraq. But, on a local scale, you have to realize that if our public assistance programs aren't brought under control, then the kids and truly needy people won't have it to turn to. I couldn't even get qualified for food stamps when I was on worker's comp after having surgery related to a work injury. The WC payments barely paid my rent, electricity, and bare necessities when I lived in a very modest apartment. I had to turn to family to buy food. And all along I knew the benefits that the former roommate was getting!! It made me sick!!!!!

By: mg357 on 5/5/11 at 8:30

D7; It's not a Smith, it's a Ruger GP100. 1. There is no such thing as a free lunch, someone is paying for it. 2. When you begin to think that having the government provide for you and make your decisions for you is ok; realize that you've also given up the freedom to make your own choices. 3. If you think the *free ride* is essential to your way of life; God help you when the gate slams shut. Let me ask you this; we are propogating a large voting block for which party and at this point we have more people voting for a living than working for one. It's called rewarding failure and punishing success. Oh, and D7; the woman should have been punched out. Feeding her sorry butt is enough, she chose to have a dog. This kind of mindset is what is bringing America to her knees..........mg

By: NewYorker1 on 5/5/11 at 8:40

If a parent or parents have a second drug conviction, shouldn't the child or children be removed from the home anyway? I agree with this bill. Furthermore, I think if a man or women is receiving welfare benefits, they should have to take the birth-control shot while they are on public assistance.

By: PhiDelt496 on 5/5/11 at 9:17


You can't make your first comment about how "Christian" the whole Bible belt is and then talk about them painting with broad strokes! Also, you are so quick to label anyone with a less than liberal idea as a "Tea Bagger", so just watch the throwing stones and make a legitimate point for why you oppose this legislation. Also, Dirty Harry carried a .44 Magnum.

This problem has a "trickle down" affect throughout our society. These parents are on drugs and abuse the welfare system to support their drug habits. The children are forgotten about and not supported at all. The only support they receive is at school where the taxpayers provide 8 hours of and 2 meals. Then the children go home, play in the filth that the taxpayers provide for them to live in. Not to mention the Cable TV or Government provided cell phones.

We are already paying for these Children to live in filth and starve (physically, emotionally, and mentally). At what point would it be cheaper for the State to take the children from the filth and provide a "boarding school" type environment for these children to live in. The parents should be forced to take a drug test before benefits are provided. I think that the $90 test fee would easily be recouped in savings of benefits withheld due to positive drug tests. The 'boarding school" provide the support, discipline, and health that they are robbed of by their unfit parents. This cannot be a "feel goodery" either, it must be a strict environment with latitude as far as punishment. If it were setup as a "boarding school', these children would not need to be in Metro Public Schools, and you would probably see the test scores in both systems drastically improve...with the same teachers and administrators.

I know this sounds harsh and cold, but I have NO sympathy for the parents in these situations, and all of the sympathy in the world for the children.

By: mg357 on 5/5/11 at 9:38

De Provera shot; yea Newyorker; Anyone in possession of their faculties understands the reasoning here. In my research I found this info; the governor of Indiana is about to sign a bill that cuts funding for abortion from planned parenthood in his state with Kansas about to follow. There isn't a poster on this board who would deny a child anything but; this has become a ridiculous situation to say the least. Delta, I too believe these children should be removed from such an environment and placed in state funded boarding schools and cut the parent off freebies. This would be a win-win situation both for the taxapayers and the kids. At least they'd have a fighting chance instead of living in squalor and perpetuating what they see everyday. Someone mentioned that the drug dealers weren't on welfare but; the babies Moma is; what kind of crap is that.......mg

By: dargent7 on 5/5/11 at 10:48

mg: I thought Eastwood always carried a S&W and it was "the largest hangun in the world"...Oh, well. Maybe i watch too many movies.
And people owning dogs/ cats are "bringing America to it's knees"? Maybe you watch too many movies.
No, engaging in useless, worthless wars, 2-3 at a time, helping "people" who hate us, always will hate us, and steal our money, is bankrupting America.
Not adopting and caring for a dog.

By: richgoose on 5/5/11 at 11:09

Anytime the underclass is kicked in the teeth I cheer.

By: PhiDelt496 on 5/5/11 at 11:54

We have to stop excusing poor spending decisions by government with other poor spending decisions by government. That is why we are in this mess in the first place! Any cut in government spending no matter how small, is a step in the right direction.

I keep hearing the left talk about how getting us into 2 wars is what is bankrupting the economy, but I remember about 3 years ago when Obama kept saying that he has a plan to get us out of both wars quickly. Not only has he not gotten us out of either of the wars, he as added another. I personally believe that invading Iraq made a whole lot more sense then invading Libya. I have to quote Bush himself on this but "Tell me the world is safer with Saddam Hussein in power". Is that an excuse for the invasion, I dont know, but I do know that an evil man, who killed hundreds of thousands, is dead because of that invasion. Ghaddafi (sp?) is an evil man as well, but we should remember that Libya filled with the people that threw parades in the streets for the bodies of the Black September Murderers, so who exactly are the rebels that we are supporting.

By: PhiDelt496 on 5/5/11 at 11:55


I dont think that this is kicking anyone in the teeth, this is not supporting people who kick themselves and their children in the teeth!

Plus, remember, it was you who referred to them as "underclass".

By: NewYorker1 on 5/5/11 at 3:46

Well, if you are not making at least $300K per year, then I consider you underclass.

By: BenDover on 5/5/11 at 3:57

It should be noted also that we went into those two infamous wars with about 90% consensus in the population and in congress... including Hillary, John Kerry, and a ton of other traditional libs who have chosen to abandon their earlier positions and would have abandoned the missions to failure had Bush not had the stones to see them through.

By: richgoose on 5/5/11 at 4:46

NewYorker1.....Without your comments on this message board the entire process would be without merit..........You are the man, I assume?

Thanks always for your humor and your entertainment.