Tuesday, March 06, 2012

No drug tests for Wyoming welfare recipients or for legislators

The Wyoming Senate, showing more sense and sensitivity that the Wyoming House, defeated a bill yesterday that would have mandated drug tests for some welfare recipients.

The vote was 17-13. Democrats led the charge to defeat this so-called "punish the poor" bill (so-called my me) and were joined by moderate Republicans. All the votes in support of the bill were cast by Tea Party Republicans.

Sen. Kit Jennings (Tea Party-Casper), co-sponsor of the bill, supported the House-originated bill and the Senate's amended version, which stipulated random drug tests for adults instead of drug tests for all welfare recipients. In the Casper Star-Tribune, he said that 
it would have provided an answer to the many constituents he hears from who ask why they have to get drug-tested for their jobs but welfare recipients get a pass.
No word from Jennings about why it's a good idea for state government to get into the drug-testing biz.
But Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, said the bill would do more harm than good. He said the most likely result is that a small number of people would choose not to apply for the benefits because of the testing. 
“This is a program that is designed to help children,” he said. “The outcome of this randomized experiment is going to be that 1 or 2 percent won’t show up and their kids will probably go hungry.” 
Sen. John Hastert, D-Green River, said there were constitutional problems with the bill since the state has no probable cause or reasonable suspicion that the people it is testing are drug users. 
“By singling out this specific program, there is a sense of discrimination,” he said. “Why not drug test other forms of public assistance that we have? Like should we require drug testing for any type of subsidy?”
As the bill was debated in the House, Rep. Jim Byrd (D-Cheyenne) tried to attach an amendment mandating drug tests for legislators. It failed, but it was one heck of a good idea.

Next year, when ultra-conservatives bring up other punish the poor bills, it should be mandated that legislators also comply with drug tests. There must be some mood-altering substance responsible for the addled behavior of Tea Party Republicans.


curlyikester said...

I hate to be a "poor-hating" person, but if people are taking from the government, shouldn't the government have the right to make "rules" for the people taking money. Also, if you can't support yourself, why should you have children? Just because you can have children, doesn't mean you have to.

Michael Shay said...

First, we should test the lawmakers. Let's see how they like it.