How many drug users are in the state house?
State Rep. Angel Cruz wants to drug test fellow lawmakers.
State Rep. Angel Cruz is raising the stakes for Pennsylvania's legislators. Bringing forth a bill that would request that his peers were subjected to regular drug tests, Angel Cruz said he wants "to set an example."
Representative of the 180th District of Kensington in North Philadelphia, Cruz is pushing back against lawmakers in Harrisburg who are promoting the testing of citizens who receive government assistance. This push is especially timely, as the U.S. Congress passed a bill that would allow states to require drug testing for those who receive unemployment benefits.
Though the bill, House Bill 620, is especially timely, Cruz has been pushing for similar bills for over 3 years. He stated the idea for the bill came from Puerto Rico and would be a way to keep lawmakers accountable while in office. It would require drug testings within three months and during reelection, a process the legislators would have to pay for themselves.
“They do this at the call of the speaker and the call of the senate president at random,” Cruz told Philadelphia Magazine. “He’ll walk in and say, ‘We’re doing drug testing today.’ It puts the fear of God in everybody,” said Cruz.
This effort, while direct, will also be unpopular as no legislation of its kind is currently popular in any state. Indiana Rep. Heath VanNatter introduced House Bill 1310 with similar provisions and no action. West Virginia State House Delegate Shawn Fluharty submitted a similar bill in the state but with different repercussions. His bill stated that representatives who failed would be barred from casting a vote or receiving their pay. “I think the public expects us to adhere to the rules that we try to legislate,” he told WTRF. “There’s no reason we shouldn’t do it. It’s not going to cost the taxpayers any more money because we’re going to pay for it ourselves.”
Cruz says he’s only in favor of drug testing for public assistance benefits if everyone is tested, including elected officials.
“If you’re going to do that, it should go clear across the board, everybody,” he says. “Lawmakers — and everybody that takes any kind of assistance or whatever — we want to make sure that we’re not supporting their drug habits.”