After a similar House bill (HB 1133) was killed in committee Wednesday, another version of a controversial bill requiring mandatory drug testing for South Dakota legislators has now passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and is headed for a vote on the Senate floor.
The move comes after Attorney General Marty Jackley proposed new, harsher penalties for the use and manufacture of methamphetamine. Representative Tim Goodwin of Rapid City launched the original initiative to subject the state’s lawmaking body to the same standards and expectations given to the general public.
“If lawmakers are going to send people to prison for long periods of time (for drug use and abuse,) we should be clean ourselves,” Goodwin said.
Congressional candidate and Watertown State Senator, Neal Tapio backs the notion and is cosponsoring the new Senate version of the legislation which proposes drug testing lawmakers once after their swearing into office and once near the conclusion of each legislative session in Pierre.
Tapio says simple observation shows the conversation has certain members of both houses of the South Dakota legislature squirming noticeably in their seats. Tapio and Goodwin agree simple deduction suggests anyone not backing the measure might have something to hide.
“There’s no reason in the world for members duly elected to the South Dakota legislature, the very body tasked with deciding the penalties and punishments for those who break our state laws on substance abuse, to oppose equal scrutiny of their own personal behavior,” Tapio said.
“I would say that when people are so vehemently opposed to this, it leaves people to wonder about what they might be hiding in their own lives in a very hypocritical way,” Tapio said.
If it passes the Senate, the bill would require House Committee passage before a floor vote could happen. House Majority Leader Mark Mickelson, who stringently opposed HB 1133 has the power of committee selection in determining where the drug testing bill would be heard. Tapio says the bill is an opportunity for lawmakers to set a clear example to their constituents about a high standard of personal conduct.
“South Dakota is in dire need of a wider conversation about the impact of drug usage on our people, schools and businesses,” Tapio said.
“The state is facing a drug epidemic, resulting in workforce shortages, increased crime rates, increased costs for juvenile and adult criminal justice systems and requests for more jails in our communities. We should set an example as legislators to have a zero tolerance policy for members of this August body.”