Marianas Variety Guam Edition – The Local and Regional Newspaper

12 23Thu04022015

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Line of defense

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WE ENTER our jobs with anticipation, wondering what projects to tackle first. In my case as a senator, it was my passion to help students young and old find their place in our world and in our workforce. Then other serious issues are brought to my table, which often times are related to my passion. This includes Bill 317-31, which has received a considerable degree of attention. It is the infamous drug-testing bill for recipients of public assistance.

There is no question there are individuals who need public assistance.  However, there is a need to take precautionary measures against abuse of the system. In recent years, the local economy has been less than ideal. We recognize action is needed to ensure that every penny the government of Guam spends is used efficiently and effectively. Strict fiscal responsibility means judicious use of every tax dollar.

On Sept. 27, I introduced Bill-317-31, requiring mandatory drug testing for those applying or renewing for public assistance. In such, I share your concern that we need to be proactive in our fiscal responsibility and in dealing with the serious matter of drug abuse. The drug problem in our community is a recurring and disturbing issue. Substance abuse impacts not only the individual, but the family, the community, and the economy. We need to defend against this problem that is detrimental to so many areas of our society.

Drug screening is one line of defense against misuse of government funds. It is a routine procedure that is typically used in our community, including in the employment process. Employers provide jobs to qualified individuals seeking a career and to make a living – and employers are certainly not in business to support any disabling drug addiction. The drug test is a step for an employer to filter and keep qualified candidates for a position.  In the same manner, the government can use this tool to ensure that only responsible citizens and/or their beneficiaries will receive needed public assistance.

The intention of Bill 317-31 is to protect the people of Guam. It is a defense against the influence of drugs on individuals who misuse government funds for harmful and illegal activities. It also guarantees that these limited funds are for those who are in most need. In addition, drug testing will further assist us in determining the gravity of this community problem. It will help identify what other critical services are needed by applicants.

If signed into law, our people’s hard-earned tax money will continue to help those in need of public assistance while protecting our families, community and economy – and not support substance abuse. Provisions in the bill are in place so that family members, especially the children, will continue receiving the support they need.

I appreciate the overwhelming support we’ve received. Substance abuse tears into the fabric of our island society and economy. Together, we can prevent and repair the damage of drug addiction and abuse. Together, we can help each other become productive citizens in our community.

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