While there undoubtedly are dozens of devils lurking in the details, state Rep. Ben Harbin's House Bill 1163 is the sort of legislation about which most people wonder: What took so long?
Harbin's bill, introduced last week, would require anyone receiving state benefits to be willing to submit to random drug testing.
Naturally, the usual suspects who oppose any accountability in return for handouts are turning cartwheels of unhappiness. Union boss Richard Ray says Harbin "should worry about people running out of benefits, not making people jump through hoops."
Sorry, but we just can't imagine most working people having a problem with setting up hoops, hurdles and strings between their hard-earned tax dollars and the grasping hands of people living off entitlements.
Let's face it: Those on the dole shouldn't just be willing to accept the possibility of drug testing to receive a government check; they should be offering to wash taxpayers' cars or cut their grass.
There was a time when government "relief" was accepted only reluctantly, with humility and as a last resort. Now? The feds run advertisements to persuade people to come in and sign up for a share of the money that you worked to earn. That only encourages irresponsibility.
Having said all that, there is one area in which Harbin's bill needs amending: It includes unemployment benefits as one of those areas requiring drug tests.
That seems harshly punitive. Though repeated government extensions certainly seem destined to make unemployment benefits semi-permanent for some people, the fact remains that unemployment pay is an earned benefit akin to an insurance policy.
Unlike welfare or food stamps, unemployment isn't a tax-funded giveaway; you can't get it unless you worked for it to start with.
Other than that minor tweak, though, Harbin is on the right track. Anyone wanting to stick their hands in taxpayers' pockets should be more than willing to prove those hands are clean.
If they aren't? Let them apply for benefits from their local drug dealer and see how that works out.
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