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Reactions Mixed on Legislative Drug Tests

August 14, 1986|JERRY GILLAM | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — An assemblywoman's proposal to require all legislators to submit to drug screening tests drew heated opposition from Democratic leaders Wednesday, but support from Republicans.

Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) called the resolution a "silly idea" and an "election-year ploy" that had nothing to do with whether a person should hold elected public office.

But Assembly Minority Floor Leader Pat Nolan (R-Glendale) said he is willing to take a urine drug test, saying, "if it's good enough for President Reagan, it's good enough for me."

Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles) asserted that the measure "shows not an iota of concern about due process, probable cause and the right of privacy."

Senator Approves

However, Senate Minority Leader James W. Nielsen (R-Rohnert Park) said mandatory drug tests for state legislators--with the results being made public--sounded like a "a good idea."

The opposition of both Brown and Roberti--the Legislature's two top leaders--indicated that the proposal, sponsored in a resolution by Assemblywoman Marion W. La Follette (R-Northridge), had a dim future.

La Follette told a Capitol press conference that she had "no evidence of drug use in the Legislature" and had "every confidence that every legislator will test clean."

In brief, La Follette proposed that all 120 members of the Legislature be required to submit to urinalysis for controlled substances. The tests could be administered by the legislators' personal physicians and would have to be reported to the Senate-Assembly Joint Rules Committee no later than Aug. 29, the day that the current legislative session is scheduled to end.

If a legislator did not "test clean," she said, "appropriate action" should be taken by the lawmaker's own house--such as a requirement that the person undergo drug rehabilitation treatment.

Reagan's Example

Reagan, she said, "set a good example" by volunteering to take a drug screening test last weekend as part of his newly declared national war on drug abuse. But she said Reagan also should have asked members of Congress to take drug screening tests.

"As state legislators, we must be role models to our young people," the assemblywoman said.

But Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles) criticized La Follette's proposal as "all part of the political hype that started in the White House." She added, "It's a ridiculous thing. If there is a problem, this is something that the caucuses should bring forth--not one loyalist of the Republican Party trying to follow in the footsteps of her President."

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