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Philly lawmaker renewing bid to drug test legislature

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Mar 17, 2017 6:41 PM
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Lawmakers would be subject to random drug tests under Cruz's law, which he calls a matter of fairness. (Photo by AP)

(Harrisburg) -- A proposal currently in the state House is looking to make lawmakers subject to random, mandatory drug tests.

Its sponsor, Philadelphia County Democratic Representative Angel Cruz, said it's a matter of fairness.

This is Cruz's third time sponsoring the drug test bill, but it's never gotten farther than the House State Government Committee--where it's sitting now.

He said it's based on Puerto Rico's legislative drug tests.

Lawmakers would be tested within a few months of being elected, and they'd also be subject to random tests on designated days chosen by House and Senate leaders.

Cruz's reasoning for the bill is that private-sector employees--in Pennsylvania, and elsewhere--are often subject to drug tests. So, he asks, why not hold lawmakers to the highest possible standard?

"I think it's a good idea because it gives respect to the people that we represent," Cruz said. "Saying, hey if you're going to go through this process, we should lead the example. I don't see why not."

He also said lawmakers shouldn't be above the laws they propose for their constituents. The legislature frequently introduces legislation that would drug test various constituents--particularly welfare recipients.

So far those initiatives have never been successful. However, there's been a recent, Republican-led push on the national level to make it easier for states to drug test employees and people who receive state benefits, which could change the legislative landscape around the issue.

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