A new bill proposal in the Maine legislature would require the state’s lawmakers to be randomly drug tested. The proposal is among 400 requests that will be up for review come Oct. 22.
The bill has been requested by Republican Rep. Larry Lockman of Amherst, reports The Ellsworth American. Lockman claims that such a program would only be fair to Maine citizens, who are being subjected to increasing drug testing as a result of Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s efforts to crack down on the state’s opiates epidemic, according to the Portland Press Herald.
“I have constituents who think we’re smoking crack down there after the latest budget,” Lockman told The Ellsworth American. “The only way we can reassure the public is to do random drug testing… If we’re going to ask welfare recipients to be drug tested, I don’t see why we shouldn’t be, too.”
Maine, under the leadership of LePage, has been aggressively drawing down its number of welfare recipients. Among these efforts was a bill passed earlier this year that requires convicted drug felons to be drug tested if they want to receive welfare assistance,.
Another controversial law has been an assets test for food stamp recipients. The rule bars Maine citizens who have $5,000 or more in the bank and in assets from receiving food stamps, according to the Portland Press Herald. Critics of this asset test claim that it will discourage those in poverty from saving.
Lockman’s proposal has been met with heavy skepticism from fellow Maine legislators. Republican Rep. Rich Malaby of Hancock told The Ellsworth American that such a program would be prohibitively expensive.
“I think it’s probably going to be immediately rejected,” Malaby added.
Democratic Rep. Ralph Chapman of Brooksville also fears that holding legislators accountable for drug use would be too costly to taxpayers, telling The Ellsworth American that the proposal would be a “costly solution that may not be very effective.” However, Chapman admits that testing welfare recipients is similarly ineffective.
LePage’s efforts to curb drug use in Maine has put him at odds with the state’s legislature. The governor sent a letter to the Legislative Council warning them that they should support his initiative, reports the Portland Press Herald.
“I realize you prefer to ignore the drug epidemic, but please for the sake and safety of Maine citizens do something,” LePage wrote. “Ignoring the problem because of your dislike for a Governor is pure negligence. If innocent people are hurt because of your lack of action, Maine people will realize who failed them.”