According to Democratic Senator Bert Johnson, if Michigan wants to test welfare recipients for drug and alcohol abuse, it should do the same for elected officials. Under the assumption that the state holds its legislators to the same standards as its citizens, the request likely won’t make it to state legislature, but it is worth addressing.
Elected party officials, appointees and otherwise have been linked to drug and alcohol abuse in the past, most recently Treasurer Andy Dillion who reportedly spent five days in January at an addiction treatment center at Brighton Hospital after several years of heavy drinking. State Senator Anthony Galucio of Massachusetts their State Representative Mar J. Carron and Rhode Island State Representative Daniel P. Gordon all famously were convicted of DUI in the past three years, with South Carolina State Treasurer Thomas Ravenel convicted of cocaine charges. Drug and alcohol abuse can affect anyone regardless of one’s employment.
Drug testing in order to receive welfare benefits is currently becoming approved by a majority of state legislations, with the measure now heading to the Senate where it’s likely to advance in many states, including Michigan.
According to the legislation, if there is a “reasonable suspicion” a welfare recipient is using illegal substances, that person would be required to submit and pass a drug test. People who test positive for drugs the first time would be referred to a substance abuse treatment center that they must pay for out-of-pocket, with any positive subsequent times or drops out of treatment resulting in their family benefits being stripped.
With the measure passing through in many states, under the assumption that the public’s tax money should not fund the war on drugs, at what point should the measure be extended, like Senator Bert Johnson suggests, to public officials and appointees?
There are a variety of products that help aid drug and alcohol users to test clean for a variety of drug tests ranging from urine samples, to hair follicle samples and even salvia and blood tests. While reasonably priced, many elected officials may have a better chance of obtaining an aid to help them pass a drug test than their low-income neighboring citizens who depend on welfare to get by.
As opponents of the welfare drug testing claim it’s not to help users find treatment, but a punitive attack on low-income individuals, it will be interesting to wait and see if the measure ever extends past low-income individuals, to all tax-paid individuals including elected officials, and if so, if that measure would ever pass as easily as now.