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Bill Would Require Minnesota Legislators to Undergo Drug Tests

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An amendment to be introduced this week in Minnesota would require the state’s legislators to undergo drug tests. Originally meant to shame lawmakers who want drug testing for welfare recipients, the bill has caught on with both Democrats and Republicans.

“It’s good accountability. Quite frankly, if someone’s going out on weekends and using meth, I don’t know that I want them making policy,” state Senator Sean Nienow, who plans to introduce the measure as an amendment to the Senate Health and Human Services budget bill this week, told the Star Tribune. A similar amendment passed the House earlier this week.

Representative Tina Liebling said she introduced the House amendment to underscore that drug testing promotes stereotypes about people who receive welfare. “There is no evidence that people who apply for [welfare in Minnesota] use drugs at any higher rate than anybody else,” she said. “Legislators should be tested. After all, we’re giving public money and the public has an interest in making sure we’re drug-free and alcohol-free.”

The measure states Minnesota lawmakers may be required to undergo random drug screening for drugs and alcohol, at their own expense. If they test positive, they would not be allowed to receive a paycheck until their test results came back negative.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 29 states have introduced legislative proposals requiring drug testing or screening for public assistance applicants or recipients in 2013.

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