Voters apparently liked this, since candidates who successfully sold themselves as fiscal conservatives — and who favored small, limited government — won more often than not.
The link between fiscal conservatism and small, limited government is clear. If government isn’t given much money, it has to be small. And if government is small, it will leave you alone.
But when candidates entered office following the election, they began to change.
They began introducing bills that would create new agencies and departments to oversee and inspect. They proposed controversial programs that would cost the state millions in attorney fees defending them in court. If approved in the courts, the programs would cost the state additional millions to implement and enforce.
What’s more, seven House Republicans have provided another example of how promises of fiscal conservatism, small government and limited interference in the lives of Alabamians can quickly give way to political agendas.
Those representatives, most newly elected in the 2010 GOP landslide, have introduced a bill that would require random drug testing of applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), food stamps or Medicaid. Those who fail the test — or refuse to take it — would be ineligible for these programs.
A person could also be tested if “there is a reasonable suspicion of the appearance or demeanor of the applicant that implies that the applicant may be under the influence of a controlled substance.”
Ignore the fact that this bill is sure to end up in court and cost the state a bundle to defend, which may be the same outcome for other bills introduced by the state’s former fiscal conservatives.
Also, ignore the fact that TANF and the others are federal programs. Washington might not take kindly to a state adding qualification criteria to what already exists.
Set aside the fact that this bill has to pass the state Legislature, be signed by the governor and clear any potential court hurdles. It nevertheless will be extremely expensive for the state Department of Human Resources to design and carry out — especially when that department’s budget is being cut.
Ignoring all these things — as those introducing the bill apparently have — this is a shameless attack on the poor and vulnerable in the state.
If these legislators really believe that people who receive public money should be subjected to this sort of testing before they can qualify, then we ask: Why not be fair and pass an act that would require random drug testing for everyone who gets a check from the state?
How about drug testing for DHR employees? Or teachers? Or any state worker?
And how about testing CEOs and boards of directors of companies seeking to do business with the state? And legislators?
Some testing up on Goat Hill seems like a pretty good idea. Maybe start with the representatives who introduced this bill.