April 27th, 2016
On April 7, Georgia Rep. Tom Taylor was caught careening through a 45-mile-an-hour zone at 72 mph. In the car were four underaged exchange students, a water bottle that smelled like booze, and a gun: quite the party for 2:46 in the afternoon.
Taylor told the officer he’d had a glass of wine the night before and nothing to drink that day, but blew a .225 on a breathalyzer test—close to three times the legal limit, according to the police report.
This week, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported that following his arrest, Taylor received at total of $20,000 from groups associated with the liquor industry, as well as from a handful of lawmakers. It’s not hard to see why. Taylor is a member of the House Regulated Industries Committee, which oversees liquor laws. In 2015, he voted to expand Sunday sale times for alcohol.
But Taylor’s liberal attitude towards mind-altering substances does not stretch to the poorer people living in his state. In 2012 and 2014 Taylor voted for measures that would have forced welfare applicants to take a drug test before receiving government aid. The 2012 measure applied to people requesting TANF, or welfare benefits. The 2014 one would have forced people applying for food stamps to take a drug test if they raised “reasonable” suspicion of using drugs.
As the Influence has noted, drug-testing welfare and food stamp recipients is ludicrously ineffective: It basically blows a ton of state money on not catching large numbers of drug users. It’s seen as a) good political theater for Republicans who get to vilify the poor by implying they’re getting wasted on the taxpayers’ dime, and b) a way to discourage people from applying for aid.
Lawmakers who’ve opposed the legislation make the obvious point that recipients of far larger amounts of government money—like, say, politicians—do not have to undergo testing for irresponsible or problematic substance use.