After expressing a mood that the House won't tolerate any illegal narcotics use, lawmakers may be ready to toughen anti-drug legislation by voting to revoke drug users' drivers' licenses.
As the House returns to its anti-drug bill Thursday, lawmakers face two opposing amendments that could affect any convicted drug offender's right to drive.Rep. Bill McCollum, R-Fla., proposes withholding part of a state's federal highway money unless the state requires suspension or revocation of drivers' licenses of anyone convicted of a drug-related crime.
A substitute amendment by Rep. Glen M. Anderson, D-Calif., provides an incentive approach. Instead of penalties, states would receive Transportation Department grants for imposing the license penalties. The grants would pay part of the license enforcement program.
The overall anti-drug bill would add some $2 billion to the nation's $3.9 billion effort against illegal drugs. While the House expects to approve the legislation Thursday or Friday, the Senate still must consider its own drug bill.
A conference will almost certainly be needed to iron out differences, but lawmakers appear eager to pass a popular get-tough-on-drugs bill so close to the election.
The House bill, as originally written, authorizes money and innovative programs for drug law enforcement, rehabilitation, treatment and education.
Under McCollum's driver's license plan, states would have to impose suspensions of at least six months for a first conviction and at least one year for repeat convictions within a five-year period.