Last month state Representative Bob Hagan whipped out plans to require legislators and other statewide elected officials to submit to drug and alcohol testing. The move came in response to a plan from Republican state Senator Tim Grendell of Geauga County to force drug testing of anybody receiving government assistance.
Grendell left the legislature last month for a new job offered by Governor John Kasich. But his bill has picked up new friends in state Representatives Cliff Rosenberger and Jim Butler, both of them Republicans.
So Hagan is moving ahead too: The Youngstown Democrat’s HB 343 would require drug and alcohol testing of legislators, statewide officeholders, state supreme court justices, JobsOhio board members, and recipients of federal corporate bailout money.
“It’s troubling to me as a state legislator to see some of my colleagues thinking they’re above the law and that they shouldn’t be [subject to] some of the laws they write,” says Hagan. “There are some who perceive they are better than the middle class or poor.”
There is precedent for such welfare drug-testing programs, but — given that this is Ohio — it’s not a good one: A similar law in Florida found that only 2 percent of those tested came back positive, leaving the state on the hook to pay for the remaining 98 percent of tests.