Two Republican bills would require unemployment benefit recipients (AB-192) and job-training candidates and food share recipients (AB-191) to answer drug questionnaires, and possibly take drug tests, and maybe even enter treatment programs to stay eligible for benefits.
Representative Andy Jorgensen (D-Milton) said lawmakers should be required to take the same drug tests required of their constituents. “If it isn’t dehumanizing, if it isn’t demoralizing, then let’s go first.” He said members of the legislature should be tested for drugs, just like they want other recipients of public funds to do. “Let’s go because we take public money, too.”
Minority Democrats on the Assembly’s Public Benefits Reform Committee introduced 24 amendments, including this one. “Lawmakers’ paychecks come from the same taxpayers, and when we take office we should be comfortable with taking a drug test and it should be in the bill.”
Democrats want to stop the program if testing “positive” rate falls below 1 percent, but that was one of many amendments that were not adopted. Jorgensen said other states have experienced underwhelming results with similar plans.
Both bills passed through committee on Wednesday. The measures go to the full Assembly next week.