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Drug Testing State Officials?

Senator says it's only fair
Jordan Smith, 1:04pm, Tue. Apr. 16, 2013
Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr.

Brownsville Democratic Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. is clean.

Indeed, the results of a November 2012 drug test revealed that Lucio was free and clear of any cannabinoids, opiates, barbiturates, cocaine or amphetamines.

Now Lucio is proposing that his fellow senators, state representatives, and other Texas elected officials should be able to say the same thing. Senate Bill 612 would require all state officials to submit to a drug use screening assessment and a drug test shortly after taking office. The bill would call on the Secretary of State to promulgate rules governing the new requirement and would have the individual test results posted by the Texas Ethics Commission. The drug testing would be paid for by individual officials. The bill has been modified to apply only to elected officials – the original version applied the drug testing requirements to all candidates for office. A committee substitute also addressed other privacy concerns, Lucio told the Senate State Affairs Committee on April 15, allowing officials to forgo public posting of the results without facing any penalty.

The bill was subject to a lightening fast committee hearing this week – less than 10 minutes, no witnesses, and very few questions from the committee (only Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston brought any questions at all, focusing in on what drug assessment would be used and what sort of questions would be asked). Give this bill about as much chance at passage as not only restoring, but also boosting funding for public education.

Nonetheless, Lucio regards his measure as a straightforward and equitable one: The Senate unanimously passed measures that would require drug testing for individuals seeking unemployment and for certain welfare recipients – requiring state officials to withstand the same treatment only seems fair, he said in support of his bill. "If we can do that...as policy makers I feel very strongly that we can...be a part of what [we] would set up as a system where we too can be accountable," he said.

The bill was left pending.

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