New Rule: Random Drug Testing for State Legislators (They’ve got to be on something)

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The GOP's war on the poor continued unabated on Tuesday with some truly awful bills. Arizona bills aim to slash spending by state:

A state Senate panel took hours of testimony Tuesday on bills that aim to shrink government, from abolishing Arizona's Medicaid system to revamping the higher-education system and using drug tests to thin the welfare rolls.

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Senate Bill 1519 seeks to terminate the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System and morph it into a slimmed-down program serving only the medically indigent, the developmentally disabled and those needing mental-health services. It could save the state about $1 billion, according to Senate staff research, but Arizona would lose out on about $4.8 billion in matching federal dollars.

The bill, sponsored by Biggs, was awaiting debate and a vote late Tuesday evening.

Translation: Arizona would drop out of the federal Medicaid program to avoid having to comply with those pesky federal laws. Arizona would give up billions in federal dollars, money you pay in federal taxes that will not be coming back to Arizona, so Governor Grim Reaper and her GOP death panel can kick sick people off of Medicaid (AHCCCS). They should "die and decrease the surplus population."

The replacement system will force AHCCCS patients into emergency room care, which will only financially burden our hospital system. I would like to hear from the hospital association on this bad idea.

Only one bill cleared the committee by mid-Tuesday evening: SB 1380, which would require random drug testing for welfare recipients.

Sponsored by Sen. Frank Antenori, R-Tucson, it would apply to any adult receiving state or federal welfare benefits, such as food stamps or temporary financial aid. The tests would be administered every two weeks on people who program administrators suspect are using drugs. The bill does not stipulate how many people would be tested every two weeks.

The bill anticipates the costs of testing would be covered by the savings from lost benefits. But Sen. Rich Crandall, R-Mesa, noted that any reduction in the issuance of food stamps would be a savings to the federal government, which administers the program, not state government.

This is just another attempt to stigmatize the poor, like the "scarlet letter" (orange card) for food stamps bill from several days ago, since withdrawn.

Scarlet letter New rule: random drug testing for state legislators. Anyone who proposes such hateful bills must be on something. And by the way: they work for us and we pay their salary. They are "on the public dole." So it is only fair to require state legislators to submit to the same demeaning measures that they would impose on the poor. You first, Frank. "Here's your sign," asshole.

SB 1115 would scrap the existing state aid to community colleges and universities and replace it with a voucher system directing a set dollar amount to each student. The bill does not specify what those vouchers would be worth.

The bill, also sponsored by Biggs, would end the Arizona Board of Regents, which oversees the state's three-university system. In its place, it would create separate boards of trustees for each school and allow the addition of more state universities.

For example, it would sever Arizona State University's ties to its campus in east Mesa and rename it as the free-standing Arizona Polytechnic University.

Also on tap was a companion measure that would ask voters in November 2012 to amend the state Constitution to eliminate the Board of Regents.

Voters are unlikely to approve this radical constitutional change. What this is really all about is "vouchers," like catnip to the anti-education right-wing, and their ideological desire to privatize education including the state university system (in total disregard for Arizona's Constitution).

Finally, in a WTF? moment, the committee wrapped up its marathon session with a bill that would have no financial effect: Designation of an official state firearm.

SB 1610 would make the Colt Single Action Army revolver Arizona's official firearm. It dates from 1873, making it far older than the state, although arguably it was in use during territorial days.

If the bill is passed into law, Arizona would join Utah, which is on track to make the Browning-designed M1911 its official firearm.

Is this really necessary? This is what our legislators are wasting their time on? OK, just drug test them all!

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