Latest in the ongoing effort to compel welfare recipients to undergo mandatory drug-testing is HB1377, introduced by Rep. Ellen Brandom (R-160). Such legislation is politically popular with Republicans – especially, one would suspect, with the rampaging Tea-Party hordes – who believe that all welfare recipients are moral degenerates who have no right to expect anything other than abject debasement and humiliation in return for that greatest of boons, the tax-payer dollar.
Of course no good Republican ever apologizes for addressing complex social issues with a sledge hammer, especially if it cuts costs even nominally while permitting a satisfying display of sanctimony. However, in the interests of making a gesture toward comity, one of the main rationales put forward for this legislation is to make welfare consistent with private sector employment practices:
Because many private industries require drug testing of their employees, Rep. Larry Wilson, R-Flemington, said, state government should too of those receiving benefits.
Evidently Rep. Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D-72) has taken that argument to heart so much that she has just introduced HB 1754, which would require that all state lawmakers, statewide elected officials and all top state aides undergo drug-testing. In the best tradition of canary-eating-cat, Chappelle-Nadal notes:
Most businesses these days require their workers to undergo pre-employment drug screening,… . There is no reason elected officials and their staff should be treated differently.
Chappelle-Nadal adds for good measure that:
There has been much talk this year about raising ethical standards in state government and making elected officials more accountable,… . Ensuring that lawmakers and other elected officials aren’t using illegal drug is consistent with those goals.
This legislation will surely be a snap to pass – we all know how committed to fairness and transparent government ethics our Missouri Repubican lawmakers are … don’t we?