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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Panel OKs 2 bills on drug test for candidates, elected officials

The House Committee on Judiciary and Government Operations recommends passage of two separate bills related to mandatory drug testing—one for those wanting to seek public office and the other, for those already elected to office.

The committee, chaired by Rep. Christopher Leon Guerrero (Cov-Saipan), recommends passage of Rep. Roman C. Benavente’s (Ind-Saipan) House Bill 18-21 in its current form. The bill requires screening for illegal substances prior to running for public office.

The panel also recommends passage of Leon Guerrero’s HB 18-152 with amendment. The bill requires mandatory drug testing of elected public officials.

The JGO Committee strengthens the penalty provision for elected public officials who fail to undergo drug testing or those who test positive for drug use, by imposing “immediate suspension of personal salary and personal benefits until such time as a favorable test result is provided.”

“Inconclusive results and the failure to undergo tests shall be subject to appeal and a re-test with the possibility for a retroactive adjustment. No official public funds to the political office shall be affected,” the committee amendment reads.

The CNMI government has adopted alcohol and drug-free workplace policies but these policies do not apply to elected officials.

In the past, elected officials, including lawmakers, have figured in cases or reports of illegal drug use and sale.

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