I noted several weeks ago the press by some elected officials to drug test welfare recipients is leading other legislators to want to drug test elected officials (including judges). Now Tennessee is considering such a proposal but, rather than citing to drug testing welfare recipients, is citing the state’s drug-free workplace laws.
Under Section 1 of HB 2432 as introduced, the speakers of the House and Senate would be required to create a drug-testing regime for members of the General Assembly “consistent with the provisions for a drug free workplace under title 50, chapter 9” and specifically cites Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-9-106(a)(1), which authorizes private employers to conduct drug tests.
Section 2 of the bill goes on to require the Tennessee Ethics Commission “develop and implement a system for drug testing all persons who are elected to public office”, again citing 50-9-106(a)(1).
Because judges in Tennessee are “elected to public office” (through partisan or non-partisan election at the trial and a merit selection/retention election system at the appellate level) they would appear to be covered under Section 2 as “elected to public office.” Section 3, however, confusingly does not specifically require the Supreme Court administer such a program, but the court is “urged” to do so.
The Tennessee supreme court is urged to develop and implement a system for drug testing all persons who are elected to judicial office. The system should provide for the testing of elected public officials in a manner consistent with the provisions for a drug free workplace under title 50, chapter 9. The expenses of the system may be paid from applicable accounts of the judiciary for official purposes.