Lawmakers Feud Over Amendment Concerning Drug Testing Elected Officials

Wednesday, March 28th 2012, 9:23 pm
By: News 9

Partisan politics at the State Capitol have lawmakers feuding over an amendment to a bill that would require legislators and other state elected officials to be drug tested prior to taking office.

The bill, in its original form, will require welfare recipients to be drug tested. Before the bill passed the House of Representatives, lawmakers included a provision holding themselves to that same standard. However, the amendment died before it hit the Senate floor.

Many Oklahomans say elected officials being drug tested sounds like a no-brainer.

"I think everybody in office should be tested," Oklahoma taxpayer Gabe Scheer said.

Scheer was not alone in that thinking.

"[Welfare recipients] got to do it, so should the lawmakers," Oklahoma City resident Michael Johnson said.

The bill's Senate author says the question is not over whether or not lawmakers should be tested, but rather how to go about it implementing it.

"The bill has to do with welfare," Republican State Sen. David Holt said. "Just because [the provision and original bill] both have drug testing, to me, is like saying that swimming pool legislation ought to be in a firefighter bill because they both involve water."

Holt single-handedly took out the lawmaker drug testing provision that Democrats say had overwhelming support in the House.

"The Senate apparently determined that they don't want to be held to the same standard that they wish to hold [welfare] recipients to," Democratic House minority leader Scott Inman said.

Holt says he favors the expansion of drug testing, but he says the amendment to his bill is nothing more than a distraction from the real issue; welfare.

"I don't think it was a serious amendment," said Holt. "I think that it was a stunt."

Inman took exception to the provision being called a stunt.

"It's not a stunt," said Inman. "We looked for an opportunity, a vehicle, to attach the amendment to demonstrate that we can hold ourselves accountable."

The bill is now in the Senate, but it will head back to the House before landing on the governor's desk. Holt says he does not expect the provision to be an issue in the future. Inman says he will do everything he can to put the provision back in the bill.

Holt says he is open minded to separate legislation requiring drug tests for lawmakers.