The Senate refused Tuesday to consider legislation that would require random drug testing for the state’s welfare recipients.
The controversial House Bill 7, sponsored by state Rep. John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie, received a majority of Senate support, with a 20-12 vote. But HB7 fell six votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed to consider the legislation before the regular session ends on Thursday.
HB7 missed the 6 p.m. Monday deadline for consideration under the normal protocol, which would have allowed the bill to pass with a majority vote.
Because the session is so near the end, legislative rules now require two-thirds approval of the 39 members before the Senate can consider the legislation.
LaBruzzo said Tuesday that the measure’s Senate sponsor, Sen. Jonathan Perry, R-Kaplan, was in the restroom Monday when the legislation was called to be presented.
The bill was returned to the calendar and not brought up again before the deadline passed.
LaBruzzo accused Senate leaders of playing games with the bill.
Perry apologized Tuesday to his Senate colleagues. “I did not truly anticipate all the ulterior actions that would come into play,” he said.
HB7 would require that 20 percent of Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program recipients be randomly drug tested.
Critics have said the legislation is unconstitutional and unfairly targets the poor and minorities.
LaBruzzo says random screening would help break the cycle of addiction among welfare recipients. But critics say it is inaccurate — and potentially racist — to assume that people on welfare use more drugs than the general population.