In a bunch of state legislatures, Republicans—mostly Republicans, anyway—have
that drug-testing welfare recipients and perhaps unemployment benefits is a great idea. Never mind constitutional provisions regarding illegal search and seizure. These folks are collecting checks courtesy of the taxpayer teat, goes the twisted reasoning, so they have to give up their rights. More than 30 states have passed or considered passing such legislation.
What the purveyors of such nonsense don't much care for is facing the prospect of peeing in a cup themselves. So, as Arthur Delaney has taken note, when Republicans have introduced drug-testing legislation, some smart(-ass) Democratic legislators have put a spoke in their wheels by adding amendments that would require legislators themselves to undergo drug tests.
That's what happened in Indiana Friday:
"There was an amendment offered today that required drug testing for legislators as well and it passed, which led me to have to then withdraw the bill," said Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville), sponsor of the original welfare drug testing bill.
Huzzah to Indiana Democrat Rep. Ryan Dvorak for introducing that amendment. The precedent seems to have been set by Democratic Georgia State Rep. Scott Holcomb when he introduced a similar bill in December after Republicans introduced a bill requiring welfare recipients to be tested as a precondition of getting their checks:
“It strikes me if the legislature is going to focus its attention on an issue like this, then we should lead by example,” Holcomb said. “If we’re going to require drug testing before Georgians can receive benefits, we shouldn’t expect others to live by standards that we don’t uphold ourselves.”
Leading by example is something not many Republicans have agreed to do in this matter. A spokesman for Florida Gov. Rick Scott told Delaney in September that the governor would be willing to submit to a drug test himself. But when Comedy Central reporter Aasif Mandvi crashed a press conference in December and presented a cup for the governor to pee in, explaining that the gathered reporters could all face away, Scott declined.
Democratic legislators in Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and now Indiana have found their Republican colleagues eager to test the pee of welfare and unemployment benefits recipients also decline when offered the chance to prove they themselves aren't on drugs, despite behavior that would indicate substance abuse of some kind.
But calling out hypocrisy has its limits. Indiana's McMillin plans to reintroduce a reworded version of the drug-test bill that he expects will pass constitutional muster and force some of his state's most vulnerable citizens to prove themselves worthy of getting a pittance to keep them afloat in the still-dicey aftermath of the worst economic downturn since the 1930s. Perhaps, the Democrats should start offering amendments requiring lobbyists and state contractors to be drug tested.