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      Texas public elective office candidates could face drug testing

      A T exas senator proposed a bill Monday morning to the state senate that would require drug testing for certain public elective offices.

      S enate Bill 612 states that at the time a candidate files an application for a place on the ballot for public office, or makes a declaration of write-in candidacy, they must agree to a drug screening assessment.

      If there is good cause to suspect a candidate of controlled drug use, he or she could then be subject to a drug test.

      L ast fall, Senator Eddie Lucio voluntarily submitted a drug screening to serve as a role model for Texas politicians. Now, he's asking senators to consider a bill that would hold those running for re-election, or political hopefuls, to comply with the Act.

      T his comes after the senate considered two bills that would require applicants for welfare and unemployment to pass a drug test, last week.

      The authority with whom the candidate files an application for a place on a ballot, or makes a write-in candidacy, would administer a screening assessment or test under the candidate's expense.

      "To my knowledge, there historically has not been a problem with people running for office taking illegal drugs. So you have to wonder where that's coming from. And then also, you need to ask, who's going to pay for all of this?" said Amarillo City Commissioner Ellen Robertson Green.

      A fter completion of the test, the authority would obtain a waiver of confidentiality from the candidate, then release the results to the Texas Ethics Commission. The Commission would then release the results of the test no later than 45 days before the primary election, or the general election if there is no primary.

      Amarillo Mayor P aul Harpole said the decision is a matter of costs outweighing benefits in terms of drug addiction.

      " T he cost of addiction based on just the medical costs and the family costs, that it's hard to quantify how horrible those are, and so anything we can do to help control addiction would be important to all of us ," said Harpole.

      He also said the the state's current laws may be enough to deal with the issue.

      " O f course there are a number of laws about drug use and if a public official was to violate those laws, we'd go before the court and if there was a conviction that would be public record. So I think there already are things to help with that," said Harpole.

      A candidate would not be eligible for elected office if the candidate refuses to submit a screening assessment or test, or if they waive the candidate's privilege of confidentiality with respect to the results.

      If it passes, the Act would take effect September 1, 2013.