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State senator proposes mandatory drug testing for all prospective candidates

Last week, the Texas Legislature considered two controversial proposals concerning whether applicants for welfare or unemployment should be required to pass a drug test in order to receive benefits. Now, one senator is taking things one step further by asking state lawmakers to consider a proposal concerning whether applicants for public office must be required to pass a drug test.

Senate Bill 612, sponsored by Senator Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville), would mandate that anyone who either files an application to have their name put on a ballot for public office or who makes a declaration of write-in candidacy to submit to mandatory drug screening and testing.

The screening/testing would be performed at the expense of the candidate and carried out by the authority with whom they filed their ballot application or write-in declaration.

Once the test is completed, the prospective candidate would have to sign a waiver of confidentiality and the results would then be forwarded to the Texas Ethics Commission. Here, the commission would release the results of the drug screening/test a minimum of 45 days before the primary election or the general election (if no primary is held).

Under SB 612, the failure to submit to the drug screening/test or sign the waiver of confidentiality would result in the prospective candidate's name being withheld from the ballot.

Those opposed to the bill have already raised multiple concerns including its costs and, more significantly, whether it is even necessary given the laws already in place.

"Of course there are a number of laws about drug use and if a public official was to violate those laws, we'd go before the court and if there was a conviction that would be public record. So I think there already are things to help with that," said Amarillo Mayor Paul Harpole.

SB 612 is currently before the Senate Committee on State Affairs. If passed, it would go into effect next September.

What are your thoughts on the bill?

Stay tuned for further updates from our San Antonio criminal defense blog ...

If you have been charged or are currently under investigation for any type of drug crime, be certain to contact an experienced legal professional.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Sources:

KVIH-TV, "Texas public elective office candidates could face drug testing," Andrea Flores, April 16, 2013

Texas Legislature Online, "History: Senate Bill 612"

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