Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How about drug and alcohol tests for Republican legislators?

Here's a copy of the letter to the editor Cheyenne’s Ken McCauley submitted to the WTE yesterday. It concerns the mandatory drug-testing (aka “punish the poor”) bill making its way through the Wyoming House: 
Last week several legislators introduced a bill to require drug testing of needy families participating in the (Power Program). The bill was introduced by the sponsor as a state budget concern. 
Of the 47 legislators who voted to introduce this bill, 14 voted against mandatory testing of DUI suspects last year. They are willing to force those with extreme financial need to undergo drug testing, but oppose testing drivers who exhibit behavior extreme enough to qualify as probable cause to a trained law enforcement officer. 
Rep. Frank Peasley, of Douglas, speaking against the DUI bill last year, called it “a pretty intrusive concept … something right out of a good 'ol vampire movie.” Rep. Bunky Loucks, of Casper, told a reporter, “What are you going to do? Are you going to strap people down [to test them]? To me that’s a scary visual.” 
But apparently, mandating testing for the poor doesn’t bother these representatives a bit. 
The program targeted by the bill is the Personal Opportunities with Employment Opportunities (POWER) program. The POWER program is a “work program” -- not a handout. Recipients are assigned jobs within their community in order to learn job skills that will make them self-sufficient. Many suffer from social disabilities or lack basic work skills. Most are assigned a job for a full 40-hour week, but in return for their work they receive a maximum benefit of just $577 per month (for a family of three). 
Let's put that in perspective. A Wyoming legislator receives $150 per day in salary from the state. Most receive an additional $109 per day for expenses. That means they receive more in just 4 days than a struggling family of 3 will receive in an entire month with this subsidy. 
Rep. Miller says the bill is necessary to control state costs – but the program does not receive any funding from state revenue. Unlike the legislature budget, the POWER program is funded 100% by a federal block grant and does not impact the state budget at all. The drug testing, however, would be paid for by the state when the recipient passes the test. 
If the legislature is seriously concerned about paying state resources to someone who might be under the influence, I'd suggest morning and afternoon alcohol testing of the members of the legislature. This bill and the supporting votes clearly shows we have members who are impaired. 
Thanks to Ken for doing the research on this bill -- and digging up the legislative quotes. Find out more about the "punish the poor" bill at


larry kurtz said...

Have you seen this roster, Mr. Shay?

South Dakota's legislature is in session, too: scary shit....

Best wishes,

Michael Shay said...

Thanks Larry. I ran the Wyoming ALEC lists last August. Funny how the sponsors of the most extreme conservative bills are from this ALEC roster.