Democratic Georgia state Rep. Scott Holcomb has introduced legislation to the General Assembly that would require lawmakers to pass a drug test before taking office.
The usual bill was filed last week in response to a proposal to drug test welfare applicants, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“This bill is really very simple,” Holcomb said in a statement. “If the General Assembly is going to pass laws requiring struggling, jobless Georgians to pay for drug tests as a precondition to receiving state benefits, then members of the General Assembly should lead by example and take the tests first.”
Random tests would also be mandated by the bill, which lawmakers would be required to pay for with their personal funds.
Following the example set by Florida and Missouri, Georgia state Sen. John Albers (R) introduced a bill that would require all applicants of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) welfare program to pass a drug test.
“Whether you work to receive compensation or collect government assistance, the same standards should apply,” Albers explained to Patch.com in November. “If individuals are receiving aid at the taxpayer’s expense, citizens have the right to know how their funds are being appropriated.”
Under the proposed legislation, applicants who failed the mandatory drug test would be ineligible for TANF benefits for one month. If they failed a second time, they would be ineligible for three months. Applicants who failed three times would be ineligible for three years unless they successfully completed a drug treatment program.
“I would prefer the General Assembly focus on the issues that are most important to Georgians,” Holcomb said. “But, if the General Assembly is going to make drug testing for state benefits a major issue when we return in January, then legislators need to be the first in line.”
The American Civil Liberties Union has decried the laws as discriminatory and other critics of drug testing TANF applicants have said it places vulnerable children at risk. The program is meant to help families so that children can be cared for in their own homes, and requires parents to participate in work-related activities.