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Missouri And Tennessee Consider Drug Testing Politicians

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Urine SampleBy Phillip Smith

Awash in a whirlpool of proposals to subject welfare recipients to drug tests, legislators in two states, Missouri and Tennessee, are proposing that legislators themselves should undergo drug tests. In Missouri, a welfare drug testing bill was signed into law last year, while in Tennessee, a plethora of drug testing bills are currently before the legislature.

They are only two of about three dozen states that have seen drug testing bills aimed at welfare recipients, recipients of unemployment benefits introduced in the past year. But they are among the first to see the push expand to target legislators.

In Missouri, Rep. Rick Brattin (R-Harrisonville) has introduced House Bill 1225, which would require members of the General Assembly to undergo random, suspicionless drug testing at their own expense during the legislative session. Members who test positive for illegal drugs or drugs not lawfully prescribed would be immediately removed from office and barred from seeking elected office again for two years.

“Hardworking taxpayers don’t want their money to be subsidizing other people’s drug use,” said Rep. Ellen Brandom (R-Sikeson) last year, explaining her push to test welfare recipients.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, said Rep. Brattin. “I think we should live by the same standard we are asking others to live by,” he told the Kansas City Star. “Our salaries are paid by taxpayers, so we should assure them we aren’t using that money on drugs.”

The bill has been assigned to the House General Laws Committee, but it has not yet been scheduled for a public hearing.

Meanwhile, across the Mississippi River in Tennessee, two Democratic legislators, state Rep. Johnny Shaw and state Sen. Reginald Tate, are backing a bill, House Bill 2433 and its Senate companion bill, SB 3524, which would require the speaker of each chamber of the general assembly to develop and implement a drug testing program for legislators and staff.

Under the bills, state legislators and staff would be subjected to random, suspicionless testing for drugs and alcohol. A positive test result or a failure to take the test would be referred to the leadership of the chamber for disciplinary action.

They said the bill was in response to numerous Republican bills calling for drug testing for welfare recipients, workman’s compensation recipients, state employees, private sector employees, and even making it a crime (“internal possession”) to fail a drug test.

“I don’t think lawmakers should ever vote to make any laws they don’t first and foremost abide by,” Shaw told the Associated Press. “My question is, what lawmaker would not vote for it?”

House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga) might be one. He told the AP drug testing legislators wasn’t his highest priority. “Most people would like to see people who don’t work for their government paychecks to get tested first,” he said.

The bills to drug test politicians make for good statehouse politics, but even if they were to pass, they are probably doomed. In a 1997 decision, Chandler v. Miller, the US Supreme Court threw out a Georgia law requiring drug tests for elected officials, saying it violated the Fourth Amendment’s proscription against warrantless searches.

Article From StoptheDrugWar.orgCreative Commons Licensing

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  • Does that mean that someone who tests positive for a disapproved substance can refuse to pay taxes in support of such program since said individual would not benefit from it? Since there is no medical basis for such legislation, and since alcohol which is clearly more dangerous, is currently not forbidden to service recipients, one can only conclude that this is arbitrary ‘morals/ethics/values’ based legislation.

    It appears that in the absence of any ability to affect positive change and lifting the citizenry in some way, it is easier to withhold support from those who need it most on the basis of a legalized character judgment.
    An argument that amounts to something along the lines of: ‘It’s not that I can’t help you, it’s that you don’t deserve it because I don’t like what you do, even if you don’t harm anyone.’

    Making drug use a reason to exclude people from society does not solve any of the problems that come from abuse. And lumping people who use, with people who fall into addiction does a disservice to everyone. That’s like saying that everyone who enjoys beer at a moderate level is an alcoholic. If drug use is to be understood, and addiction conquered, it won’t happen by rejecting those in the midst of it. We need to unite instead of trying to find more reasons to hate each other. It would be so refreshing to see people who understand this, coming into elected office and finally doing right by people.

    Peace to you and yours.

  • Carolynjleach

    Correction on last comment its & buys weed speed alcohol and pills.

  • Carolynjleach

    Im all for legalizing medical weed. Because of my severe arthritis & panic attacks my doctors have me strung out on xannax and oxycodone.I was on percocet but I now have liver disease thanks to those.I wont smoke till they legalize weed out of fear of losing my job &going to jail. Im also all for them drug testing welfare &foodstamps recipients because my cousin has four kids and its party all day every day in front of her children ages 1 through 10. She just sits back collects welfare &foodstamps &I buys weed speed &I alcohol &I pills with the money.

  • Bri

    So “In a 1997 decision, Chandler v. Miller, the US Supreme Court threw out a Georgia law requiring drug tests for elected officials, saying it violated the Fourth Amendment’s proscription against warrantless searches.” Then where exactly do they have the right to test welfare people???? Or anyone for that damn matter? I think they should be tested like the expect us to be. And what the hell is with this law “internal possession”?? Damn last time i knew it was MY body, not theirs. So therefore it is MY business what i put in it or not.

  • Bri

    So “In a 1997 decision, Chandler v. Miller, the US Supreme Court threw out a Georgia law requiring drug tests for elected officials, saying it violated the Fourth Amendment’s proscription against warrantless searches.” Then where exactly do they have the right to test welfare people???? Or anyone for that damn matter? I think they should be tested like the expect us to be. And what the hell is with this law “internal possession”?? Damn last time i knew it was MY body, not theirs. So therefore it is MY business what i put in it or not. All i can say is “shame!!!”

  • Steve McCullough

    Sounds like a good way to finally get it (weed) legalized. I’m kinda shocked,in a way, they aren’t already drug-testing politicians.

  • 9ognimus9

    Politicians should face the same rigid standards they want to impose on everyone else. If they do, then these legislators should be drug tested regularly to keep their jobs and if they get laid off by voters, they should be regularly tested to continue any tax payer-funded pension benefits until they reach the legal age to qualify for social security. The testing should be comprehensive and include nicotine and prescription drugs like Oxycotin. They should also be required to breathe into a breathalyzer before casting a vote on a bill or participate in a debate. There should also be body weight standards. People have the right to require that their elected representatives be of sound mind and body when they are making important decisions that impact all of us and our families. We also shouldn’t have to pay for the free healthcare that Congressman and state legislators receive if they continue to drink, smoke or become overweight.

  • C. Murua

    What is wrong with these politicians, I mean come on… They sit around worried about the most idiotic crap I have ever seen. “Hardworking taxpayers don’t want their money to be subsidizing other people’s drug use…” Why not treat people on welfare like dogs. People follow their dogs around and wait for them to crap so they can clean it up. Why not waste more taxpayer money and have welfare recipients followed around to see where and what they actually spend their welfare on. What if they buy cases and cases of Mountain Dew? Is that not a waste of taxpayers funds? The only waste I see here is time wasted by idiots who have no real sense of what happens to the common man. And yes, I agree they should test the people who make these stupid laws. Fair is fair. Nuff said…