Is this testing a good idea?

Apr. 28, 2013 @ 05:28 AM

Lawmakers in Raleigh continue to baffle with their wit and wisdom.

On Monday, the North Carolina Senate passed a bill that mandates applicants for the state's cash and worker-training welfare program take drug tests as a requirement to receive benefits.

The first baffling part of the wisdom is due to the fact that North Carolina lawmakers are paid from taxpayer dollars. Granted, most of those legislators make a little under $14,000 a year which is not a robust sum but it still comes from taxpayer pockets.

One senator, Gladys Robinson, a Democrat from Guilford, attempted to amend the bill to require state lawmakers, the governor and cabinet members take annual drug tests as well.

That measure fell on deaf ears.

So the message is that the law should be good enough for the general citizen but it does not need to apply to those the public elects.

Mounting on to that is the fact that Sen. Tom Apodaca of Henderson County managed to use a substitute amendment to steer the body to approve the bill without a vote.

This came just a week after another senator quieted a North Carolina publisher during a committee hearing by pointing out his leverage as a senator over that of a citizen. The latest political wrangling shows more of the arrogance displayed by our elected leaders in Raleigh.

Don't be mistaken, we don't have any opposition for requiring a drug test for a welfare recipient is charged with a substance abuse crime. If a person is drawing state benefits and there is proof he or she is tossing that assistance away on illegal substances, they should not receive those taxpayer funds.

However, this latest law calls for "suspicionless drug testing" which other states have deemed unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

The process of having the poor pay up front for drug tests, taking money already in limited supply and taking food out of the mouths of their children is something we cannot sit idly by and watch.

According to The Herald-Sun, the N.C. Justice Center said that "the proportion of substance-abusing welfare recipients is rather low." The Center went on to suggest that "the state may end up picking up the tab for $2.3 million to reimburse people who have done nothing wrong for tests proving just that."

Citizens don't deserve being treated as criminal suspects without cause any more than the people they represent.

It is clear that lawmakers in Raleigh have come to the conclusion that they are immune to the very laws they were elected to enact but they have no problem ensuring that those that elected them are forced to follow.

 

The Herald-Sun contributed to this editorial

 

By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board

 

The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett, Dr. Shermaine Surratt and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark