May 6, 2010 3:11 PM by Melissa Canone
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - An attempt to create a voluntary,
state-funded drug testing program for Louisiana's state lawmakers
and statewide elected officials received approval Thursday from a
House committee that also added voluntary psychiatric evaluations
for the officials.
Rep. John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie, said he introduced the proposal
(House Bill 1352) because the idea of state officials getting drug
tested was repeatedly raised as LaBruzzo discussed his bill to
mandate drug testing of welfare recipients, a bill that has won
LaBruzzo said mandatory drug testing of legislators has been
deemed unconstitutional so he's instead proposing to create a
voluntary program. He said he expects lawmakers and statewide
elected officials would want to take the test to prove they weren't
using illegal drugs.
"I'm confident that many of my colleagues, all of them, would
have no problem passing a drug test," LaBruzzo told the House and
Governmental Affairs Committee.
The test results for anyone who agrees to the voluntary drug
test would be posted online.
Lawmakers on the committee questioned the financial cost, so the
bill next will head to the House budget committee for a review.
Other committee members asked why the bill was needed if the
program would be voluntary. But no one objected to the bill - or to
an amendment by Rep. Girod Jackson, D-Harvey, that included a
psychiatric evaluation as part of the voluntary program.