Strong debate over drug testing bill even as House Republicans boycott as a protest

03/08/2012 03:26 PM

House Republicans didn’t show up for Thursday’s Health and Welfare Committee because its chairman, Rep. Tom Burch called for hearing — but not voting — on a bill allowing drug testing for people who receive government assistance.

Burch and the bill’s sponsor Rep. Lonnie Napier, a Republican from Lancaster, tried to keep things civil as they went back and forth:

Rep. Burch went on to say that if one more member was in attendance, giving the committee a quorum, he would have called for a vote just to vote it down 9-0.

Napier, who is retiring at the end of the year, has pushed for this bill as a way to curtail drug addicts from receiving government benefits — or even using those funds to get drugs.

But as Napier told Pure Politics earlier this year, the legislation wouldn’t just cut them off right away.

Despite the lack of a quorum, Democrat members went ahead and debated the controversial bill rather passionately:

The ACLU of Kentucky is also among those who oppose the legislation. They passed out a letter from their Executive Director Michael Aldridge that reads:

The law would have frightening implications for the privacy rights of all Americans, not just the poor. It opens the door to drug testing of virtually any person who receives government benefits including those who receive business loans, student loans or tax deductions for mortgage payments. We feel that welfare recipients are no different than any other American who receives some sort of public benefit and should not be subjected to a higher level of scrutiny.

Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics available exclusively on Spectrum News. Pure Politics is the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like his coverage of the backlog of DNA rape kits waiting to be tested in Kentucky. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Pure Politics airs weeknight at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Nick on Twitter @NStorm_Politics. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or


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