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April 9 , 2007: Protect Students’ Rights and Privacy – Contact Your Legislators to vote NO

Dear Friends,

We have a busy and challenging week ahead at the Legislature –Please read the information below and contact your legislators (Click here to find your Senator and click here to find your Representative) and urge them to vote NO. It is especially important to call your legislators if they serve on any of the committees in which the bills are scheduled this week. Many thanks

Substance Abuse Testing and Welfare Eligibility –

SB102 (Burchett)/HB588(Matlock) requires substance abuse testing for applicants and recipients of public welfare benefits. Both bills are scheduled to be heard on Wednesday, April 11 - SB102 is in Senate General Welfare Committee and HB588 is in House Government Operations Committee.

  • SB102/HB588 subjects welfare applicants and recipients to random suspicion-less drug testing which violates their 4 th amendment constitutional rights against unreasonable searches and seizures

  • Similar, less restrictive legislation in Michigan has already been found unconstitutional by the 6 th Circuit Court of Appeals (Marchwinski v. Howard) which is the same jurisdiction Tennessee is in. The court invalidated Michigan’s law mandating random drug testing of welfare recipients and denied benefits to those who tested positive for illegal drugs. The proposed Tennessee legislation is harsher and mandates drugs testing for all recipients and applicants.

  • The bill targets welfare recipients despite evidence that drug use among welfare recipients is no higher than that of the general public (National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism). The bill codifies a perceived difference in drug use between the welfare community and the general population. These assumptions are not only incorrect, they are patently discriminatory.

  • One positive drug test would deny a person welfare benefits indefinitely. There is no procedure for regaining benefits, even after successful rehabilitation. Due process mandates that a full hearing take place before the cessation of benefits.

Parental Consent and Student Clubs –

SB1133/HB905 requires parental permission before students can join school-sponsored clubs. This bill will be heard in Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, April 11. We are concerned about the serious consequences of, and the potential constitutional problems with, these bills. Our concerns focus on the heavy administrative burden created; the potential institutional liability implicated; the negative consequences directed toward at-risk minority students; the discouragement of student participation in important extracurricular activities; and the fundamental constitutional rights it infringes.

PDF icon Talking points on parental consent and student clubs






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