Politics

Iowa State Senator Proposes Mandatory Drug Testing for State Senators

| by Alexander Rubinstein
Iowa Senate.Iowa Senate.

Iowa state Sen. Jason Schultz wrote an amendment to Iowa state’s health and human services spending bill that would have mandated drug screening for state senators. The proposed amendment failed when Senate President Pam Jochum ruled on May 7 that the amendment was not relevant to the bill.

During the debate on the floor for the fiscal 2016 health and human services budget bill, Schultz, a Republican, made the case: “This is saying that we will test ourselves, as we would suggest that those who receive assistance be tested, as the people who pay taxes as a condition of employment are tested.”

Iowa allows private sector workplace drug testing, provided the employer has "reasonable suspicion" of drug use, and has written a company-specific policy. Mandatory training for supervisors is required, and the company may have to provide financial support for employee rehabilitation treatment, among other requirements.

Among minority GOP state senators, 24 supported the amendment. If the amendment had passed, the punishment for senators who failed the test would be ineligibility for the state’s group health insurance program.

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“Ladies and gentlemen, the people of America were furious when Obamacare was imposed upon America and Congress exempted itself,” Schultz said, reported The Des Moines Register. “By no means should we exempt ourselves from what we believe is good public policy and I believe good public policy is protecting the taxpayers of Iowa.”

Following Schultz’s remarks, Sen. Robert Dvorsky asked Jochum to issue a ruling on whether the amendment was relevant to the spending bill. Jochum ruled in favor of Dvorsky, a Democrat, that the amendment was “non-germane to Senate File 505,” reports Quad-City Times.

Later, the Iowa Senate voted on a another GOP bill that would have required that public assistance beneficiaries pass a drug test before receiving assistance under the Iowa’s Family Investment Program, which is administrated by the Department of Human Services.

The bill was struck down by the senate, on a 23-26 party-line vote.

Sources: Iowa.gov, The Des Moines Register, Quad-City Times, Wikipedia

Photo Sources: Wikimedia Commons