Ohio Lawmakers Could Face Random Drug Testing

Ohio Lawmakers Could Face Random Drug Testing

By McCarton Ackerman 11/20/14

While Republicans insist on accountability from people receiving public assistance, they won't require the same from themselves.

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New legislation up for review in the Ohio Senate could force lawmakers to pass drug tests and be held to the same standards as those receiving public assistance.

SB 212 was created by Sen. Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) in response to the state considering drug testing welfare recipients. State senators and representatives would be subject to annual tests under the proposed guidelines, in addition to random tests under the year. Anyone who tests positive for drugs or refuses to take the test would be required to undergo substance abuse counseling. They would also be blocked from serving as committee chairs or receiving lawmaker pay until they pass a drug test.

"If we are going to be sincere in preventing individuals from obtaining public funds while also using illegal drugs, then we should start with the people who have the greatest impact on state dollars--elected officials," said Turner. "Elected officials should be held to the same level of accountability as a single mother receiving help to get back on their feet. It is only fitting that we correct this oversight to meet the highest of standards the people of Ohio expect from their lawmakers." Because the bill is not supported by Republicans and has not moved beyond committee hearings, it’s unlikely to ever be put into law.

However, politicians in other states have also tried to adopt similar measures. Last September, Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari proposed an annual mandatory test for all California legislators and statewide officeholders. But after intense criticism from his party, he insisted that his comments made during a radio interview were a joke.

Minnesota Democrats and Republicans agreed on this issue in April 2013 and agreed to be drug tested. A house majority voted 70-64 in favor, leading Rep. Duane Quam (R) to declare, “bring on the cup. I have nothing to fear.” But lawmakers in North Carolina rejected a similar proposal brought forward by Democratic state Sen. Gladys Robinson, who said that “we receive state funds…so it should not be above [sic] any of us to submit to drug screening.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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