Pubdate: Tue, 30 Aug 2011
Source: Birmingham News, The (AL)
Copyright: 2011 The Birmingham News
Author: Joey Kennedy


First we have the immigration law that may well make it illegal for a 
church pastor to minister to an illegal immigrant, but allows people 
who can afford maids and yard hands to skip asking about their 
employees' immigration status.

Now, Alabama Republicans in the Legislature are considering a law 
that will require people who apply for welfare to take drug tests. Of 
course, this law is not the brainchild of any Alabama lawmaker. Our 
lawmakers must not have enough good ideas of their own, so they steal 
bad law from other states. This one comes to us via Florida.

We published an editorial on this subject last week that suggested if 
we're not wanting taxpayers to fund somebody's drug habits, maybe we 
should test all state-paid workers, with lawmakers themselves at the 
top of the list. Go here to read that editorial.

What is it about Republicans like Scott Beason, the Republican from 
Gardendale, who specifically target certain groups for action? Beason 
was a co-sponsor of the immigration bill, and he actually sponsored a 
drug-test-welfare-applicants bill similar to Florida's in this year's 
regular session, but too late for lawmakers to act.

But even worse than people hating other people through targeted 
legislation are the attacks on personal freedoms and the erosion of 
civil rights that we passively allow lawmakers to get away with.

Poor people who need state assistance likely do fewer drugs than 
wealthy people who can afford them. As our editorial states, "if the 
reason for this law really is to protect taxpayers from helping fund 
somebody's drug habit, there's only one way to do that: Test 
everybody who receives state taxpayer dollars. Lawmakers should set 
the example and be first in line."

What do you think? This week's Views poll wants to know. Vote below. 
The results and a selection of comments will be published in Sunday's 
Viewpoints section.

We can talk about this as well during our weekly live chat Tuesday at 
1 p.m. Sign up below.

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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart