Friday, January 27, 2012

Do As We Say … But Exempt Us

A whole bunch of Indiana legislators* decided to try to follow Florida’s example and introduced a bill (HB 1007) to require those Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds to take a drug test. I don’t really want to spend time discussing the merits (or lack thereof) of this bill other than to note that it wound up costing Florida several million dollars (which, gee wiz, went to a company owned by the governor…) and revealed a lower incidence of drug use than among the public at large (how many poor people can really afford drugs, what with trying to eat and have a roof over their heads…). The discussion of whether those receiving government assistance should be obligated to take a drug test is a good discussion for another day (but in thinking about this question, you might ask if CEOs of the auto companies or banks had to take drug tests).

Anyway, what I really wanted to take note of was what happened at today’s hearing on HB1007 at the Indiana General Assembly. An amendment was offered to HB1007 that would also require drug testing for Indiana legislators! After all, if we’re going to require some Hoosiers take take a drug test for receiving government aid, why shouldn’t those on government salaries who decide which Hoosiers must take drug tests to be tested themselves? Surprisingly (at least to me), the amendment passed 54-41 (I’ll be interested to see the party breakdown of those voting for and against the amendment).

But rather than allow that sort of compromise bill to become law, Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Southeast Indiana), the principal author of the bill, withdrew the bill from consideration! Think about that for a second: 55 Indiana legislators were so concerned with possible drug use by those receiving welfare that they introduced a bill to drug test those recipients … but Rep. McMillin was so opposed to having he and his colleagues tested that he decided to withdraw the bill instead. It’s relatively rare (well maybe not so much anymore) to see that kind of hypocrisy so blatantly displayed.

Welcome to Indiana.

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*Here is the list of sponsors of HB1007; note that of the 55 sponsors, only 2 are Democrats: McMillin (R), Noe (R), Bacon (R), Baird (R), Behning (R), Borders (R), Brown (R), Burton (R), Cheatham (D), Clere (R), Crouch (R), Culver (R), Davisson (R), Dermody (R), Dodge (R), Eberhart (R), Ellspermann (R), Espich (R), Foley (R), Friend (R), Frizzell (R), Frye (R), Goodin (D), Gutwein (R), Heaton (R), Heuer (R), Hinkle (R), Kirchhofer (R), Knollman (R), Koch (R), Kubacki (R), Lehe (R), Lehman (R), Leonard (R), Lutz (R), Mahan (R), McNamara (R), Messmer (R), Morris (R), Neese (R), Rhoads (R), Richardson (R), Saunders (R), Smith (R), Speedy (R), Steuerwald (R), Thompson (R), Torr (R), Truitt (R), Turner (R), Wesco (R), Wolkins (R), Yarde (R), Ubelhor (R), VanNatter (R).

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