One of the great escapades in Better Georgia’s formative years was delivering pee cups to policymakers at the State Capitol after they tried to pass a bill mandating drug tests for welfare recipients.
The year was 2012. As per usual the state legislature was up to no good. The likes of Gov. Nathan Deal, state Sen. John Albers, state Rep. Matt Ramsey, former state Rep. Doug McKillip and far too many other Republican leaders were targeting poor and working class Georgians.
Relying on classist (and, let’s be real, racist) tropes about who uses welfare safety net programs, these policymakers schemed up a plan to require drug tests for anyone applying for TANF, or temporary assistance to needy families.
So Better Georgia flipped the script. The real abuse of power comes from those at the top, not families trying to get out of poverty. If working mothers would be required to go through an unconstitutional drug test, then so should the elected officials whose paychecks come from taxpayers.
Better Georgia took to the capitol, asking all of the elected officials who supported this bill to submit to a drug test. Better Georgia’s executive director Bryan long hand-delievered test specimen cups — also known as pee cups — to lawmakers at the State Capitol.
Better Georgia was part of a chorus of voices criticizing this measure for blatantly targeting low income people. Meanwhile, other beneficiaries of public assistance — like CEOs of corporations receiving tax breaks or elected officials drawing their paycheck from the government — were left untouched by the policy.
While the bill was signed into law, the judicial branch ultimately shot it down. Unconstitutional searches do, indeed, run contrary to the fundamental rights the Constitution protects. Republicans tried nearly the same shenanigans two years later, and once again the courts saw fit to strike down such a ridiculous measure.
Better Georgia started as a way to disrupt the status quo in Georgia, and continues to do that work today. Lawmakers continue to target working families with bad policy while ignoring the real issues — like education and poverty — that our leaders need to be addressing. Better Georgia won’t stop resisting. We don’t know what Republican leaders in this state will cook up next, but you can bet we’ll be there to fight it.