Tennessee representative calls for lawmakers to be drug tested - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Tennessee State Representative calls for lawmakers to be drug tested

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - A Tennessee representative called for lawmakers to take the same drug test a new law would require for welfare recipients.

Longtime State Representative G. A. Hardaway, D-Memphis, District 92, said he has heard from constituents.

"They said to me, 'how do we know y'all aren't on drugs?'" said Hardaway.  "I thought, well, you don't."

Hardaway said they are upset over a bill that would require anyone who receives government welfare assistance to first take and pass a drug test.

"With all the crazy legislation that we produce over the last couple of years, I'm sure that some people would love for us to be drug tested," said Hardaway.

He said he plans to introduce legislation requiring lawmakers pass a drug test if and when the welfare drug test issue comes up, which appears likely.

Opponents to the legislation said it may be cost-prohibitive and illegal.

"I think we need to see what sort of federal leeway we have there," Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said Tuesday.  "I haven't gotten that data back on what the feds will let us do and who would implement that and how it would be implemented."

While Hardaway has yet to review the language of the most recent bill, he argued that drug testing welfare recipients merely serves to perpetuate a vicious cycle.

"You don't cure those types of addictions with threats and punishment," said Hardaway.  "Cutting off the dollars will do nothing but damage the child."

If lawmakers are serious, Hardaway said he hopes they are ready to prove it.

"Let's set an example for them that we're practicing what we preach."

The General Assembly goes back to work next week and officially returns to session the second week of January of 2012.

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