Rep. Bob Bryant: drug test public officials

Asked at yesterday’s Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce “Eggs and Issues” breakfast whether he’d support drug testing for recipients of unemployment insurance checks, Rep. Bob Bryant said he’d support it if elected officials are required to pass the same test as a condition of holding office. From the Savannah Morning-News:

Testing for unemployment benefits was part of its 2012 legislative agenda, which legislators traditionally discuss at the yearly breakfast.

Rep. Bob Bryant, D-Garden City, drew loud applause — and shifted the discussion — when his turn came.

Bryant said he backs the whole agenda except for the drug-test item.

“I can support it,” he added, “if you require all elected officials to take the same exam.”

Voicing a widespread view, Rep. Ben Watson, R-Savannah, said it would be “hypocritical” for legislators not to accept a requirement they seek to impose on others.

Like Watson, Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, who supports the chamber proposal, welcomed Bryant’s suggestion. So did Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler.

“Anyone who holds elected office ought to be able to do so unimpaired,” Stephens said.

He said workers fired for failing a private employer’s drug test often spend unemployment checks on drugs.

“Let’s fix this problem for the business community,” Stephens added.

Recession-driven joblessness has strained Georgia’s unemployment benefits programs, and there is talk of increasing mandatory contributions from business.

Chamber vice president Trip Tollison said many business owners think testing might ease the crunch by weeding out drug abusers.

Senator Vincent Fort chimed in with talking points lifted from some Georgia liberal, no doubt:

Fort said it’s a “bad idea” and likely an unconstitutional invasion of privacy.

“They’re saying we’re going to drug-test people who haven’t been accused of a crime,” he said. “We don’t even do it for people who are arrested. They want to criminalize the poor.”

If the criterion for tests is receipt of tax money, CEOs of companies that get big tax breaks should have to take them, Fort said.

“Companies like Delta Airlines get millions and millions,” he said. “That’s corporate welfare.”

I say let’s do them one better and require legislators to work at least 24 hours per week in the service of a 501(c)(3) in order to be eligible for their paychecks, per diem, and employee benefits.

27 comments

    • brettbittner says:

      How quickly you forget that this has already been law in Georgia and challenged in the courts, finding that violates the Fourth Amendment, back in 1997.

  1. benevolus says:

    I understand the sentiment, but what would it actually achieve? An unemployed person fails a drug test, then loses their unemployment check… then what? Is the implication that they could be working and they just don’t want to? Because if they still can’t get a job then without that check they will probably soon be homeless too. Then what?
    I am sure it would be a deterrent to some, but likely not all.

  2. griftdrift says:

    “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated”

    They tried this once back in the 90s. Courts threw it out. In my memory, it’s the only time the State Employees Union ever won.

  3. Max Power says:

    How about this, if you receive any money from the government at all, a small camera is surgically attached to you head so that you activity 24/7? If you speed, boom lose your benefits. Run a red light, boom lose your benefits. Keep chickens at your home without proper zoning, boom lose your benefits. Cheat on your wife, boom lose your benefits. Vote for a democrat, boom lose your benefits.

  4. Calypso says:

    Rep. Stephens said, “…workers fired for failing a private employer’s drug test often spend unemployment checks on drugs.”

    I don’t think the good representative has a firm grasp on just when unemployment benefits are applicable. If an employee was fired for failing a drug test, he/she was fired for cause or reason, unemployment insurance would not apply. Unemployment benefits go into effect when an employee loses his/her job through no fault of his/her own.

    And I like Todd’s requirement that state legislators must volunteer 24 hours a week of their time to a charity. Odd phrasing, ‘must’ and ‘volunteer’ in the same sentence. ‘Must’ kinda negates the ‘volunteer’ part of voluntary, doesn’t it?

    • drjay says:

      as a small business owner, i can attest that someone can be let go “for cause” and still manage to get benefits, admittedly i do not have statistics, but anecdotally, if said person applies for benefits, it becomes a big hassle and a stacked deck against the employer who fights to deny the benefits…

      • griftdrift says:

        Admittedly the law can seem complex and reasons for allowing benefits can seem strange. However, it boils down to this, to get benefits the applicant has to be separated through no fault of their own. And yes, in the case of a termination, the burden of proof is on the employer. It has to be on someone.

      • Max Power says:

        Poppycock, as someone who worked 15 years in HR. I never once lost a hearing when someone was fire for cause. Most of the time I spent less time on them than I did my lunch.

        • drjay says:

          well bully for you and your hr prowess, i am a dentist, i don’t have “an hr dept.” i have me and i have to take time off from work to go to the hearing, if i don’t work i don’t get paid, and i’ve fired two people nad have am 1-1…

      • Calypso says:

        As a small business owner, I can attest that no one that I let go ‘for cause’ ever collected a dime of unemployment benefits. Admittedly, I do not have statistics, but anecdotally, if said person applies for benefits, it is not a hassle for the employer and it becomes a stacked deck against the employee who fights to claim the benefits…

        drjay, I guess you need to give me or Max Power a call the next time you want to replace a hygienist or receptionist.

  5. LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

    Write this one down as an election year stunt.

    I don’t even think it’s legal. IIRC, A state can’t place more restrictions on qualifying for benefits than what federal laws allow. But who cares, we are coming up on an election…so I’m sure we’ll see even more outlandish proposals.

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