Oklahoma politicians may be tested for drugs

Reuters News

3/12/2012 5:49:59 PM - Reuters News

By Steve Olafson

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - Oklahoma legislators voted to subject themselves and politicians throughout the state to the same drug test they will require of poor people receiving public assistance.

The bill passed the Oklahoma House 82-6 on Monday and will now go to the state Senate.

The bill requires applicants to the state's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to pass a drug screen to receive benefits. An amendment to the bill brought Oklahoma politicians into the same drug-testing regimen.

Democrats chided their Republican colleagues for singling out the poor for drug testing and tacked on the amendment, which requires anyone seeking local or state public office to certify they have passed a drug test within 15 days of filing their candidacy papers.

Republican Guy Liebman of Oklahoma City, who sponsored the bill, tried to eliminate the amendment but his motion was defeated by a 68-12 bipartisan vote.

Similar bills requiring drug testing for welfare recipients have passed the Utah Legislature and the state Senate in Georgia this year, but legislation in Florida and Michigan has been stymied so far in the courts on constitutional grounds, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Potential legal roadblocks failed to faze supporters of the bill.

"If the courts want to overturn it, have at it," said Doug Cox, a Republican representative from Grove.

(Editing by Daniel Trotta)