This press release is from the office of Rep. Mike Shelton:
OKLAHOMA CITY (March 27, 2012) Some lawmakers have no qualms subjecting to drug tests citizens who receive taxpayer dollars, but they are apparently unwilling to submit themselves to the same indignity.
HB2388 by Senator David Holt, and Rep. Guy Liebmann, both Republicans from Oklahoma City, would require drug testing for recipients under the program Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
TANF is funded by a block grant from the federal government. Recipients of aid must work at least 30 hours per week to continue to receive assistance.
Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City, filed an amendment to the bill on the House floor which would have required legislators to take a similar drug test to run for office. The bill, with the amendment, passed the House 82-6. The House author of the measure, Rep. Liebmann, also supported this language.
However, yesterday in the Senate Health and Human Services committee, Sen. Holt removed the language requiring legislators to take drug tests before moving the bill to a vote.
The bill passed along partisan lines by 5-3, and now awaits a hearing by the full Senate.
“This is a disappointing development,” said Rep. Shelton. “If citizens are required to undergo drug tests, then so should potential legislators who are entrusted with decisions critical to the welfare of our state.”
According to news sources, when the bill arrived in the Senate, Sen. Holt dropped the amendment from the legislation, describing it as a “stunt.”
Of interest, in the 2010 legislative session, the Senate passed by a 44-0 vote SB1392, by Senator Anthony Sykes, R-Newcastle. That bill contained an amendment to require all state elected officials to undergo the same standards of drug testing.
“Sen. Holt claimed that the amendment to HB2388 was a ‘stunt,’’ said Rep. Shelton. “If this is such a stunt, then why did 44 members of the Senate vote to approve the same thing back in 2010?”
SB1392 bill was never granted a hearing in the House, and subsequently stalled for the session.
“It is hypocritical of us as lawmakers to take state pay, and conduct the state’s business, but ask those who receive benefits to take a drug test, but then refuse to take the same drug test ourselves,” said Rep. Shelton. “I plan to re-submit this amendment when the bill comes back to the House for final consideration.”